SOUTHAMPTON should not be a “soft-touch” on crime.

That’s the call from city business bosses, who have urged police and civic chiefs to lend more support in the battle against law breakers.

It comes after council chiefs published a report revealing a 10 per cent increase in crime reports last year.

Burglary, robbery and knife crime all saw significant rises, while drug related violence doubled in 2016/17.

The report showed Southampton to have more crimes per-population than Brighton, Bristol and Portsmouth - and 50 per cent more than the national average.

It also revealed as part of a survey that a quarter of Southampton residents don’t feel safe on the city’s streets during the day.

One person to comment was owner of city centre coffee shop brand Mettricks, Spencer Bowman.

The businessman said his cafes had been struck 15 times by burglars in just four years.

He said: “For me it was absolutely heartbreaking when you work so hard for your business and that happens.

“For small businesses it can have a real impact.”

Mr Bowman said there had been signs of improvement, but called on councillors, businesses and crime chiefs to work together to tackle crime.

“There needs to be an ongoing plan between police, council officials and businesses.”

Giles Semper, acting chief executive of Go! Southampton Business Improvement District (BID) said he was “concerned” by statistics in the report and urged the city not to be a “soft-touch”.

He added: “Whilst we applaud recent efforts on behalf of the police and the council to address the endemic issue of begging in the heart of the city, we believe that more resources need to be directed to enforcing against all forms of anti-social behaviour.”

Hampshire Constabulary superintendent, Alison Heydari, said the rise in crime could be partly due an increase in people’s willingness to report it.

She added that it was “unfortunate” that residents felt unsafe and said the police were “committed” to making Southampton feel safer.

Dave Shields, city council cabinet member for health and community safety, said: “Keeping people safe in Southampton is our top priority.

“Rest assured we work hard to keep people safe.”