AN ANDOVER charity is pleading for help after being allegedly subjected to a campaign of vandalism and abuse by a gang of youths.

Since opening in February at the site of the former Dorothy Perkins store, Andover Clothing Exchange and Baby Bank has seen its windows smashed, doors damaged and employees heckled and verbally assaulted.

Tania Hall, the group’s founder, went public with a call for assistance this week, claiming the incidents committed by gangs of young people are having ‘a massive impact’ on their work. 

“We don’t have the funds to replace the windows,” she said. “We can’t be on our own there at the moment. Because they hang out there, especially during half term, I’m dreading the six weeks holiday coming up.” 

The incidents began taking place shortly after the charity moved into the empty building in February. They used two of the floors to store clothes and other items for those in need, with the top floor having toilets, a staff room and additional storage space. 

“As time has gone on, we’ve noticed that there were kids climbing on the roof and so we shouted at them to get down,” she said. 

“As our presence became more known they began vandalising the property and breaking windows.”  

Tania said the problem has been getting worse in recent months, claiming that more and more young people are congregating on the roof of the former M&S building, using her venue as an access. 

“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” she said. “We’ve got all the windows on the top floor having been broken so we can’t really use the upstairs at all. Our toilets are up there, the staff room too, and we can’t use them as they’re full of glass.  

“The rails at the back of the property are no longer usable, and police have found needles at the fire exits at the back of the building so even when we clear the rubbish that they have created we have to be careful about being hurt by those.” 

She has been reporting the issue to the police, but said that they had been unable to help her because of the possible dangers to the people on the roof falling or jumping.  

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said police are aware of the ongoing issues taking place at the buildings. 

They said: “The local Neighbourhood Policing Team will be working in partnership with the store and site owner to address the security of the premises. 

“If incidents such as anti-social behaviour or criminal activity are reported to us then we will respond where appropriate and possible. 

“We would encourage anyone who witnesses such behaviour to phone 101, or 999 if a crime is ongoing.” 

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