RESIDENTS said they are becoming 'vigilantes' in the absence of police as Parkstone becomes 'the new Boscombe'.

During a public meeting last week, those who live near Ashley Road in Upper Parkstone spoke of their fears about a spike in crime and anti-social behaviour.

Simon Boxall, who attended the meeting at St John's Church along with other members of the public, local traders and the police, said: "There have been problems with the street community who live in Ashley Road."

In the past month, some 142 incidents have been reported to Poole police, he said.

"To the outside observer, Boscombe has been cleaned up at the expense of Parkstone," Mr Boxall said.

"One local hairdresser said that there was always trouble outside her shop. She vividly described how not a day went by when there was not fighting by St John`s bus stop."

During one fight, a broken bottle was wielded in the street, it was heard.

"Another trader described how every morning she opened her back door, only to see members of the street community openly dealing drugs in her car park," he said.

"One mother spoke of how she was afraid to walk her children down the street.

"The landlady of a local pub said one of the convenience stores in the street will sell alcohol to anyone, despite having been warned by the police not to do so."

It was claimed that four stores selling alcohol have been warned by police, who are monitoring the situation. Officers have called for the community to report incidents as they happen.

Parkstone has also been designated a crime 'hotspot', and an extra police officer has been assigned to the area.

Street pastors will go on patrols in Ashley Road to try and combat anti-social behaviour.

Speaking to the Daily Echo after the meeting, Zoe Merrick, the manager of Cash Recycle, said: "A lot of us are very angry.

"We feel the police aren’t around and we are having to be vigilantes to make it stop – to stop the druggies from smashing things up.

"Things have been better since the meeting, but we're still getting people going to the toilet on the street and there are needles everywhere.

"It's disgusting. I've worked here for 17 years and it's never been this bad.

"It's reached the pinnacle point over the past year where now it's the worst."

Counter staff at the Post Office said problems with shoplifting have recently decreased since BCP Council removed benches outside so addicts couldn't "congregate".

"It’s just demoralising," one staff member said.

“It’s horrible for everybody, especially the shops run by much much older people. It can be really scary.

“It’s a shame because I love living in Parkstone but there is this minority group which are drinking, drug taking, fighting and stealing.”

Inspector Adrian Thompson of Poole's Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) said: "Please be reassured that Poole is a good place to live and the NPTs are committed and working hard to focus on the issues that most affect our communities.

"We have developed a 100-day plan for the borough and each area has identified its key issues.

"Among the key priorities we have identified, and will be proactively working to address, are street drinking and anti-social behaviour in the Ashley Road area.

"Anti-social behaviour is not restricted to children on bikes on pavements or noise and it can also have serious links to organised crime for some young people.

"We recognise the impact it has on residents, traders and the vulnerable at these locations.

"We have added an officer to our NPT team covering Parkstone and they will have a particular focus on the Ashley Road area. The officer will be supported by colleagues from rest of the NPT."