Police are increasing their visible presence in the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight tonight to provide higher levels of reassurance to the public and deter anyone considering causing disorder.
Officers are continuing to work around the clock to quell the potential for copycat incidents occurring in the two counties, with intelligence teams dedicated to monitoring social media to detect early signs of people trying to generate violence.
An 18-year-old from Southampton was arrested by police yesterday evening on suspicion of attempting to incite violence through use of a page on the social networking site, Facebook.
He was taken into custody, held overnight, and released without charge this afternoon after accounting for his actions.
Superintendent Steve France-Sergeant, from Southampton police, said: “”We are quite content having spoken with him that his intention was not to cause a riot, but he now fully understands that his promotion of a web page devoted to rioting in Southampton was not only inappropriate but caused real concerns to vulnerable people and businesses within the city.
“This young man now realises now that his actions were highly irresponsible and has written a letter of apology to Southampton city and its residents for causing undue concern.”
In his letter, the 18-year-old writes:
“My acts on Facebook were stupid and immature, even though I never wanted to start a riot, by creating a page about one I could have incited one. So for that I’m sorry. I know the rioting is a big fear everywhere and didn’t think about the negative side of my poor idea and how people felt. Hopefully the actions taken will make people think twice about trashing their own city and following a bad example.”
Whilst there have been no real signs of civil unrest in our two counties, there have been some sporadic uncoordinated incidents of antisocial behaviour by groups of youths.
This includes a gathering of around 20 youths in Mandela Way, Southampton, a small series of bin fires and some vehicles set alight. Police were called to the gathering of young people in Mandela Way shortly after 10.30pm last night (Tuesday, August 9) after they were reported riding around on bikes with masks on their faces and causing a nuisance. They were quickly dispersed by officers.
Detective Chief Superintendent Karen Manners, commander for the policing response to any potential disorder for the constabulary, said:
“Across the county, we deal with this type of incident week in, week out. But this kind of antisocial behaviour is never welcome in Hampshire or the Isle of Wight, and for youths – many of whom appear to be barely teenagers – to use the civil unrest in London and other parts of the country as an excuse to behave this way is totally unacceptable.
“Our message to young people who think that it is harmless fun to copy what they’re seeing on the television and throw stones at cars and police officers or cause damage is that it won’t be tolerated. We have an active police presence in our communities, with increased numbers of officers on the streets across the two counties, you will be arrested and subject to criminal prosecution.
“We are working with our partners in the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that anyone who is arrested is quickly charged and brought to court to face the consequences of their actions.
“We urge parents who know their youngsters may be disappearing out in the evenings and you may suspect are getting involved in this sort of antisocial behaviour – speak to your children. Find out where they are going, if appropriate, keep them in.
“We are working closely with our communities to provide reassurance, and are providing a regular stream of updates and information on our Twitter site @hantspolice, where we are able to immediately counter rumour and speculation.
“One of our areas of focus continues to concern the use of social media sites and networks to spread false and malicious rumours of riots and to encourage violence. Some of this speculation and scaremongering has affected our communities, and we will continue tracking down those responsible so they are made to realise the consequences of such reckless remarks.
“We must thank the public of the two counties for their continued support. We urge you not listen to rumour. If you have concerns, speak to us, and if you see or hear of anything suspicious, give us a call on 101.”