SWAMPING the streets of Bolton town centre with police officers has led to a big reduction inCrime.
Increased patrols as part of Operation Sherry over the festive period saw crime fall by more than a quarter, compared to the same period in 2009.
The operation is the annual drive to cut crime and anti-social behaviour over Christmas and New Year. There were 132 reported crimes in the town centre in December, compared to 183 in 2009 — a drop of nearly 28 per cent.
Crime has fallen by more than half since three years ago, when there were 285 reported crimes in December 2007.
Sgt Paul Ellis said: “The aim of our operation was not to spoil people’s fun, but to deal with troublemakers to make sure the law-abiding people of Bolton could go out and enjoy themselves safely.
“A lot of planning and resources go into this operation from the police, council and other agencies.
We are pleased that this effort has paid off and that crime has continued to fall again during December.”
During the latest operation, 47 people were arrested for offences including causing public disorder, pickpocketing and stealing purses.
Nine people were issued with fixed penalty notices and 16 people were given a “direction to leave” order, which means they cannot return to an area for up to 48 hours.
Police say vehicle crime was virtually eliminated, as there was only one report in the town centre during the month, compared to three in 2009.
There were also 11 fewer shoplifting incidents at 41, compared to 52 the previous year, and eight fewer serious assaults, falling from 13 to five.
Public order offences fell by 40 per cent, from 24 to 15.
Operation Sherry involved regular police patrols throughout the town centre day and night.
They also handed out more than 5,000 bells, which can be attached to purses making them more difficult to steal.
Special constables and Street Angels handed out more than 1,500 bottles of water to encourage people not to get too drunk.
Staff at pubs in the Pub Watch scheme took part in the “Think Safe, Drink Safe” campaign, wearing Tshirts with slogans urging responsible drinking.
Police could not say if the decrease in crimes was due to the adverse weather, as the previous December had also seen spells of snow and sub-zero temperatures.