The introduction of town rangers for Andover has received a mixed reaction from residents, who have been debating their presence in the town.

In an at times heated Facebook exchange, the rangers, introduced at the start of the month by Andover Business Improvement District (BID) were labelled as both “a great idea” and “intimidating” by members of the public.

Some residents had not heard about their introduction, while others were concerned over the Rangers’ effectiveness, given their limited powers. In response to a question asking what the rangers were, responses ranged from describing them as “probably [sic] a step down from a pcso or community snitch” to the “grown-up equivalent of a milk monitor?!”

However, Jazmin Ellis said that the purpose of the rangers was to act as “a deterrent.” She said that “generally knowing you're being watched will deter those from actually doing something, even if they have limited to no powers.”

Others were worried that the Rangers would “undermine” the police. Matthew Thomas was critical of the rangers, saying that “all they’ve done is further push me to shop elsewhere.” He continued: “I simply will not support the privatisation of our police force.” However, Charlie Anthony said that the rangers had “shown more of a presence than the police”, adding that he believes they have made “shop staff and other security’s jobs easier as well as making the town safer”.

Danny Frendo, owner of DF Mobility, said that as a business based outside of The Chantry Centre, he doesn’t “have the luxury of the chantry security guards.”

“I think it's a good idea,” he added.

The Andover Town Rangers are funded by Andover BID, which takes a levy from businesses within the district. They are intended to provide directions and manage events on the high street, as well as provide first aid support and deter crime within Andover town centre.

Among other powers granted by Hampshire’s Chief Constable under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, they are able to require members of the public to give their name and address, deal with begging, and remove alcohol and tobacco from underage users.