Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton police on standby over riot rumours

Residents in Southampton are being urged to report suspicious activity after people used social media to call for rioting in the city.

Hampshire Constabulary said it was aware of messages and would "track down" those responsible.

The force told residents via Twitter and Facebook to "stay calm, indoors, report suspicious activity". It said its officers were on standby.

The force is also assisting the Met Police over the rioting across London.

Some shopkeepers in Southampton's city centre temporarily closed their shutters during the afternoon amid unfounded rumours of trouble, but they reopened shortly afterwards.

'Copycat riots'

Ch Supt Karen Manners said the deployment of officers to the capital would not affect policing strength across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and that the force was using social networking sites to reassure residents.

She said: "We're aware that such sites and networks are also being used to encourage copycat riots and we've reason to believe that some of these threats are being made by teenagers who don't quite realise the implications of their words.

"If you are publishing messages encouraging violence, you need to know you can expect a visit from the police."

Hundreds of other people were tweeting about the rumours, many expressing worry.

Hampshire Constabulary tweeted: "We're prepared to respond if needed and urge all to stay calm, indoors, report suspicious activity by calling 101. Will keep you updated.

"To the small minority intent on generating disorder using social media - we will track you down and you will face criminal prosecution."

A total of 22 Hampshire Constabulary officers, led by an inspector, were sent to assist with the rioting across London on Monday night following a request from the Met Police.

The force would not release details about whether more officers had been deployed on Tuesday.

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