Efforts to tackle street drinkers and drug abusers and make Weymouth safer are taking a step forward.

Amid reported successes by the police locally to combat problems, progress has been made to establish a community hub where front line staff will be based.

This is likely to be in the area of Weymouth railway station, a known hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

As reported, the hub was among the options being considered by authorities to help deal with problems in Weymouth town centre as well as at the Marsh and Rodwell Trail.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council says basing the unit in the town, with police, community patrol officers, council staff and outreach teams working together, could provide a quicker response to issues involving people who are themselves vulnerable or are displaying anti social behaviour as a result of substance abuse.

Since the issue was first discussed last autumn, work has progressed with potential properties to house the new centre assessed.

"This is about a joined-up approach, bringing people together involved in community safety in one central location and we think it will work well," said borough council briefholder for community facilities Cllr Mike Byatt.

He added: "It could even be a place where the public could visit, report issues and seek advice although that's still to be explored.

"The point is it's about having a local, visible presence and improving public confidence."

Cllr Byatt said he was keen to keep community safety and the creation of a hub high on the agenda with the upcoming changes to local government when responsibilities will be taken over the new town council and the unitary Dorset Council.

In other successes, Dorset Police have made significant steps tackling 'county lines' drug dealing, and local officers have reported decreases in anti-social behaviour, burglaries, vehicle crime, and criminal damage.

The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme for Weymouth which sees officers patrolling the streets to deter anti-social behaviour will also see numbers increase from three to four shortly.

"The officers are focusing on raising their visibility in key areas and getting to grips with local concerns," Cllr Byatt says in an update report to councillors.

He adds that work has been completed in conjunction with Dorset County Council to transform a 'problem area' near the Rodwell Trail which was being used as a shelter for drug-related activity.

Cllr Byatt says: "Following a community safety assessment, it is important to note that very few incidents

of crime and anti-social behaviour occur on the trail and it is a safe and very enjoyable feature of the town."

A Dorset Police spokesman said: "Officers continue to work with our partner agencies to detect, disrupt and bring offenders to justice, prevent crime and disorder, and safeguard vulnerable members of our community.

"Dorset Police is a committed partner to the Melcombe Regis Board arrangements. We clearly recognise the benefits that partnership working has on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, improving the quality of life for local residents, supporting and maintaining health and well-being for local people and improving the living environment for the community. Through these key benefits we also recognise that wider improvements are likely to be gained, particularly for local businesses and tourism."

The spokesman added: "Dorset Police has played an active part in supporting the introduction of community safety accredited officers within the area through the CSAS scheme, by providing accommodation, training and logistical support. Financial support has also been provided to the scheme from the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner. In addition, a dedicated police officer from our Neighbourhood Policing Team works closely with partners in delivering wider problem solving within Melcombe Regis.

We will always act on information about crime and anti-social behaviour and we would encourage anyone with information about such activity in their area to contact us."

'Praise for police patrols - let's keep it up for the summer'

Residents are hoping work by the council and police will help to prevent problems this summer.

Seafront resident Ken Whatley said: "The police do a great job and have had notable successes targeting drug dealers but a lot of people aren't aware of it. The police are getting results and should be commended for it."

He added: "The problem of people congregating in the seafront shelters is continuing and it's blight on our town. I hope that work by the different agencies will help but when someone refuses support what can you do?"

Dave Burchill from the Park District said although he had not seen many police around the problems did not appear to be getting worse. He is confident that with work going on to improve the town the summer would be a good one fro Weymouth.

Jason Williams who runs My Amazing Fantasy store near the railway station said it was a quiet time of year so there are fewer problems with people hanging around the station.

But he had seen an increased police presence in the area and hoped this would continue as the year goes on.