ONE of Huntingdonshire’s new top police officer has said he is aiming to reduce crime across the whole district following his success in St Neots.

The newly-appointed safer neighbourhoods manager for Huntingdonshire, Inspector Mark Greenhalgh, told The Hunts Post that he intends to roll out across the district the successful crime-reduction strategies used in St Neots during his three years as sector inspector.

He hoped a combination of a more targeted approach and increased partnership-working would continue to see crime fall.

"Throughout 2011 crime fell in St Neots," he said. "All crime was down 13.4 per cent, with all violent crime down 4.4 per cent and criminal damage down 23 per cent.

"This was due to changing our focus over the past few years - specifically targeting offenders most likely to commit crime and ensuring we were in the right place at the right time."

The new structure for Cambridgeshire police has yet to be approved by the force's executive board, but that is expected within the next few months.

While Huntingdon and St Neots will no longer have their own police inspectors, the move creates a policing division that coincides with local authority and community safety partnership boundaries.

Peterborough, Fenland, Huntingdonshire, East Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge will each be headed by newly-appointed area commanders. In Huntingdonshire, Chief Inspector Chris Mead will take on the role.

Insp Greenhalgh said the new divisions would enable police to address issues specific to communities, and encourage more partnership-working with external 
agencies such as Huntingdonshire Business Against Crime (HBAC), commmunity safety partnerships and schools.

"Each new area will be staffed based on the level of local demand," he said. "This will ensure we deliver the most visible and most effective service to the public."

Successes in St Neots have included tackling night-time problems in the town centre.

There was a large reduction in night-time crime during 2011 following the introduction of a strategy based on one used in Cardiff where alcohol-related data are used to improve security and responsibility among licensed premises, and police officers are deployed at times when there is likely to be anti-social behaviour.

A 'traffic-light' system was introduced at pubs where low-risk venues received a green light, and bars deemed unsuccessful in tackling drug use and anti-social behaviour on the premises received an amber or red light, resulting in a higher level of police intervention.

Insp Greenhalgh said he hoped to roll out the programme across Huntingdonshire.

"We have seen this work in St Neots where a collaborative approach between landlords and the police has been effective, and I am confident that this good practice can be replicated across the district."