POLICE have vowed to crack down on antisocial behaviour at next week's Homelands Festival, near Winchester.

They have pledged that public order offences will be their top priority at the 17-hour event on farmland at Cheesefoot Head.

Nearly 400 officers have been preparing for the seventh annual Homelands Festival for months.

They have pledged that, in co-operation with organisers Mean Fiddler, the event at the Matterley Bowl will have as little impact as possible on nearby residents.

Insp Chris May said: "The Homelands Festival is one of Hampshire's largest events and the concerns of residents in the surrounding area are a top priority for the constabulary. We have looked at previous events held over the last six years and although we do see some minor criminal damage and public order offences being committed, in many cases the fear of crime exceeds the actual level of crime experienced over the weekend.

"To reassure communities we will this year have more officers than ever before carrying out high visibility patrols on access routes and in towns and villages around the event site. We are also introducing police cycle teams which will patrol the perimeter of the site for added safety and security.''

Last year more than 28,000 people partied the night away but for the first time ever neighbours in the nearby village of Tichborne were not disturbed by the loud music. There was also a dramatic drop in the number of arrests and traffic disruption was kept to a minimum.

Just 46 arrests were made, and of 228 searches carried out on people, only 77 resulted in drugs being seized.

To avoid major traffic disruption, some minor roads in the area joining the A31 to the villages of Chilcomb, Easton, Avington and Ovington will be closed from midnight on Friday, May 28 to midnight on Sunday, May 30.

Alternative routes will be signposted throughout this time. Festival traffic will be filtered off the A31 between the Ladycroft and Percy Hobbs roundabouts.