How we use Cookies

Festive elves curb trouble

CHRISTMAS and New Year revellers have been given a pat on the back by police following a major drop in crime over the festive period.

CHRISTMAS and New Year revellers have been given a pat on the back by police following a major drop in crime over the festive period.

Sergeant Mark Porter, who co-ordinates policing in Accrington town centre, said it showed people in party mood had behaved sensibly, with only a handful of arrests.

Figures for December show violent crime in the town centre down by 42 per cent. Shoplifting is also down by 39 per cent, with burglaries down by 53 per cent.

Sergeant Porter said the success was down to a number of reasons, including the Operation Elves 2 crime crackdown, which included officers going on the beat patrolling vulnerable areas such as the market square development.

It also involved a high-tech ANPR system- Automatic Number Plate Recognition - which focused on cars from outside the area being used in crimes in Hyndburn.

Sergeant Porter said: "We had a 30 per cent reduction in crime over the same period last year but to say we have reduced it even further is fantastic news.

"I am really pleased with the way Operation Elves 2 has gone. The difference from last year is that we have had a big building site in the middle of the town. It was concerning as there has been some damage and burglaries there. But we have arrested three people at the site over Christmas.

"We've also been looking at travelling criminals coming to the area. We used our new ANPR system, which is linked into the CCTV system, to scan registration plates so we could deal with them.

"These are the main crimes we have been looking at. We are also going to have a big push against shoplifting in the near future to continue from where this operation has left off."

Police were also out on the streets keeping an eye on the hundreds of people who flocked into the town centre to celebrate Christmas and enjoy the 36-hour blanket opening times on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Sergeant Porter added: "We had some busy periods when bars and clubs were closing and people were in the town getting food or taxis home. There was some fighting and minor disorder over a short period but it wasn't particularly high."

As part of the operation, the police have also worked closely with local licensees, traders and businesses.

Sergeant Porter added: "We've worked with licensees, traders, the market hall manager Karen Hall, the site manager of the market development and the town centre manager Bill Huntly. Everybody has had an input and it has worked really well."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist