THE manager of the Andover Business Improvement District (BID) has said the town rangers who confronted a man believed to have been attempting to shoplift yesterday acted “properly and professionally”.

Police arrested a 39-year-old man following an incident in the Chantry Centre yesterday (Tuesday, September 14), in which two town rangers were assaulted, but not injured. The man remains in police custody.

Concerns had been raised about the actions of the two rangers, with one eye-witness claiming their use of force was “ridiculous”.

The bystander, who did not want to be identified, said: “The bloke had done something wrong and there is no excuse for that, but the way he was threatened and detained by the town rangers is, for me, a cause for concern.

“Obviously he wanted to get away and they started pushing him back into the corner, and he stumbled over the bin as a result.

“There was a young family sitting nearby and they were alarmed. If those people were visiting Andover what kind of image does that give them of the town?”

Steve Godwin, manager of Andover BID which runs the rangers scheme, said that the staff members in question were “shocked” by the incident, but are unharmed.

He told the Advertiser: “They were shocked, one in particular, but they are fine as they are both security trained and experienced in these types of incidents which is why they wear full body armour.

“They don’t like having to deal with a situation like that, but because it turned rather ugly, that’s what they had to do.”

Responding to concerns surrounding their conduct, Mr Godwin said he was aware it had been raised but was satisfied that all actions were “above board”.

He continued: “I am absolutely satisfied that it was all done properly and professionally.

“I have looked into the situation, as you would expect, to make sure everything was carried out appropriately, and their supervisor has also looked into it, and every possible precaution was taken.

“There was not an excess of force, what was done was necessary because of the incident.”

Mr Godwin said that the rangers are granted powers by the Chief Constable of Hampshire under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), and also hold the same citizen’s arrest powers as any resident.

He added that the team members wear body cameras, which recorded the incident, with the footage passed to police.

He said: “If there had been any kind of inappropriate behaviour, then police would have looked into that. The rangers are very strictly regulated, and they do not get involved in police incidents unless it is an absolute emergency.

“I am absolutely clear that this was all above board.”