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Islanders vow to protect Portland themselves
ANGRY Portlanders vowed to start policing the island themselves after officers snubbed their latest meeting.
Residents gathered for a second time hoping to find out what the police had done since promising to clamp down on gangs and anti-social behaviour.
At the first meeting, islanders warned that they knew of groups who were ready to take the law into their own hands and officers warned that anyone doing that would be arrested.
The residents dismissed the idea of vigilante groups at the latest meeting, held at the Clifton Hotel.
But when the police decided not to attend they vowed to set up a community action group to patrol trouble hotspots on Friday and Saturday nights to try and ensure public safety.
Clifton Hotel landlord and Portland town councillor Neil ‘Chaz’ Charlton insisted today the patrols would be legal and would operate in conjunction with ShopWatch and PubWatch schemes he would like to see set up on the island.
“This would not be a vigilante group. It’s about having a presence on the island,” Mr Charlton said.
Resident Miguel Rodriguez said at the meeting: “We need something done now.
“I’m not talking about a vigilante group but can we not set up a security team of about 20 of us?
“That would start solving the problem immediately.
“It would not be a vigilante group. It would help with people’s concerns.”
Other residents at the meeting showed support for the idea and agreed that they would be prepared to help patrol the island.
Ian Beckett, who chairs Portland’s Partners and Communities Together (PACT) meetings, said islanders would have more power if they became Special Constables to work with the police.
But this idea was dismissed when he said it would take 20 months to train.
Mr Beckett then agreed to find out how a community action group would operate and what they could legally achieve.
Residents expressed their anger at the no-show by police.
Among them, Steph Thompson said: “We feel that we don’t matter to the police.
“If we did they would have made sure that somebody was here tonight to represent the police.”
Portland Mayor David Thurston was asked to chair the meeting.
He told the 40 to 50 residents who attended that he was prepared to write a letter to the head of Dorset Police demanding more help to ensure public safety.
He said: “We were all very concerned about what was going on here on Portland.
“And after the last meeting I thought the police went away rather shocked when they realised the anger of the local people. I thought the agreement was that we would come back in a month’s time and we would see the result of what their work was.”
Other residents at the meeting agreed to get copies of Mr Thurston’s letter made so that other islanders can sign and send them off in their own name too.
Mr Thurston added: “Within 48 hours of that last meeting there were another two serious assaults on the island so our concerns were definitely well founded.”
Since the first meeting, teams of officers have blitzed the island during one weekend where groups of youths were searched and sent away using dispersal orders.
During that operation, a man was arrested after being found with a knife in Easton Square and for being drunk in charge of a child at the same time. Residents at the meeting said the island had been quiet since that weekend.