DALKEITH Steps in Old Christchurch Road has been the centre of controversy in recent weeks, but issues with the area have been prominent for many years.

In March 2021, residents of the road launched a petition to "save" Dalkeith Steps from anti-social behaviour.

Residents called upon BCP Council and Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns to intervene following an increase in anti-social behaviour, which, according to residents, has been happening for years.

Concerns regarding anti-social behaviour and drug paraphernalia at the steps, amongst other things, have been long-standing.

In 2017, “dangerous” drug paraphernalia, broken glass and rubbish at the car park footpath put people off from using the busy town centre walkway.

Four years ago one resident told the Daily Echo she refused to use the footpath because of the amount of the litter there strewn among the greenery.

Fellow town centre resident Sara Andrada said: "Bournemouth is such a lovely tourist town and tourists like to look at it. The UK is very clean so when I see this I ask why is it there if we have got the resources to clean it up?"

Even during 2017, residents called for more to be done to clear rubbish - including mattresses and dirty nappies - amid flytipping problems.

Street services manager for the then Bournemouth Borough Council, Stuart Best said: “We are now aware of the syringes found at Richmond Garden Car Park and are working with the owners to make the situation safe.”

Despite the above statement, issues are still rife four years later.

Old Christchurch Road residents believe that it is only a matter of time before a serious crime is committed if the area is not improved and solutions are sought.

In an open letter, residents detailed problems, including "drug users" and "rough sleepers" who frequent the alley to the rear of Old Christchurch Road, which residents say is used to take and deal drugs, used as a toilet, and a place to dump waste.

Residents said: "We (the residents) are very much aware that Bournemouth (particularly the southern end of Old Christchurch Road by Dalkeith Steps) is facing a myriad of problems.

"But if BCP Council does not start addressing the issues of anti-social behaviour in our area, it will become much worse and we will see residents leave and shops and investment will not be forthcoming whilst the area continues to degenerate."

The open letter accompanying the petition included potential solutions, such as adjusting the area so only residents of the flats can get through, tarmacking the alleyway and introducing lighting to the alleyway.

Following the petition, which now has 165 signatures, BCP Council has carried out an increased number of patrols in the area.

Head of Safer Communities at BCP Council, Andy Williams said: "Over the last few weeks our Community Safety Patrolling Officers have continued to carry out an increased number patrols through Dalkeith Steps area to deter or identify any individuals who are causing problems.

"We have also been liaising with local residents and landowners with regards to addressing some of the issues affecting privately owned land in this area.

"We will continue to work in partnership with Dorset Police, who also patrol this area on a regular basis and deal with any anti-social behaviour using enforcement powers such as injunctions where appropriate."

Dalkeith Lane and Old Christchurch Road also feature on a safety app that redirects residents to better routes by avoiding 'high crime zones' in Bournemouth.

The app's map pinpoints reports of crime taken from monthly police reports in the area, including sexual assault, mugging and knife crime.

On the app, it states that violence/sexual assault has been reported in Old Christchurch Road while incidents of mugging has occurred in Dalkeith Lane.

Earlier this year, Matthew Andrew Charles Ogles appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court on February 2 in relation to four separate charges of criminal damage and a single offence of possessing a knife.

One of his crimes included a bladed article crime, which occurred on September 10 last year at Dalkeith Steps in the town centre.