THE people in charge of making decisions about the best way to fight crime and tackle anti-social behaviour across north Hampshire are gearing up to join forces.

Currently, separate community safety partnerships cover the Basingstoke and Deane, Hart and Rushmoor districts, and these bring together the police, councils, Neighbourhood Watch, Victim Support and other community groups to co-ordinate joint crime and safety initiatives.

In November 2012, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hart District Council and Rushmoor Borough Council brought together their community safety staff into one combined Safer North Hampshire team.

Now, councillors at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have supported proposals to bring together the community safety partnerships after looking at the success of the joint team of community safety staff over the last year.

If all three partnerships and the Police and Crime Commissioner agree to the merger, it is expected to be established in the autumn.

A group of councillors and community safety groups and organisations in Basingstoke and Deane took part in a question-and-answer session with Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Andy Marsh and Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Mr Marsh praised “outstanding” partnership working at the session, adding: “Crime has continued to fall which is unusual in a recession. It has fallen more in this area because of the outstanding council working with, and the consent and support of, the public.”

Mr Hayes added: “Partnership is the best way to protect people and places, and secure communities.”

Councillor Clive Sanders, chairman of Safer Basingstoke and Deane and leader of the borough council, said: “Residents repeatedly tell us that feeling safe is one of their top priorities.

“The police play a vital role in this but so do the councils, other organisations and community groups that work in partnership with them.

“By working together more closely, we believe we will have a much stronger voice to seek the best for our local communities and for north Hampshire as a whole.”