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Five teenage boys were detained by police following a graffiti spree in Havant between March 15 and March 24.
The same graffiti tags were noticed in 17 locations stretching from Mengham on Hayling Island to Bedhampton and Leigh Park.
The damage caused was extensive and ranged from graffiti on underpasses and shopping centres to people’s houses and the local rugby club.
PCSO Matt Cox from the St Faith’s Safer Neighbourhoods team spotted the youngsters late at night in the act of “tagging” a house in Havant town centre and detained them with the help of his colleagues.
He said: “Graffiti is a problem for any town centre; it affects the local community and damages people’s property. I’m pleased to have been instrumental in stopping this run of vandalism.”
PC Chris Wimshurst spent a large amount of time with the businesses and people who had suffered at the hands of these youths. He said: “It was decided by all involved that getting the culprits to work at putting right the damage they caused would be the most effective way of dealing with the crime and also offer the best solution for the victims. The parents of the youths were very co-operative.”
Police and Havant Borough Council worked closely together to arrange the youths working off their debt. The council made sure that time was spent at a local community centre litter picking and tidying up the grounds.
Local Safer Neighbourhoods teams across Havant worked hard to ensure the communities saw that justice was being carried out. The Hayling Island team made sure the youths were out in Mengham cleaning off their graffiti and litter picking.
Bedhampton PCSOs escorted the youths through the beat again cleaning off the graffiti and paying the community back. Police also worked closely with the Meridian Centre in Havant who had suffered extensively at the hands of these vandals.
Through joint working it was arranged that the youths would spend two days working in the multi-storey car park they had damaged. During their time they were put to work painting over graffiti and sweeping out the car parks.
Rob Fryer centre manager said: “The centre appreciates the positive support received from the police and also the families of these individuals who were all obviously committed to making them pay for their acts. The youths carried out the tasks at hand in a very positive and responsive manner, which we believe was the best way at teaching them to respect both the property and local area in which they live.”
Another victim was Lloyds Pharmacy in Mengham and so the youths were put to work weeding, litter picking and sweeping their car park. While doing this many members of the community stopped to speak with the officer overseeing the work, saying it was nice to see them giving something back. Overall the youths spent four full days working to put right the damage they had caused.
PC Chris Wimshurst said: “These lads are first time offenders and the best solution seemed to be putting right what they had done. It offers the best compensation for those who suffered and it also helps to make the offenders realise the amount of damage they have caused. I think that this will teach them more than being put in a cell and told off. It was a chance to put common sense policing to work.”