Project in memory of police officer cuts crime in Hester's and Whaddon
CRIME figures have been cut as part of an innovative project inspired by a police officer who lost her battle with cancer.
Work at the Aston Project has been highlighted by police chiefs for its role in cutting criminal damage this summer.
Incidents are down by more than 40 per cent in Hester's Way and Whaddon, according to latest figures from the force.
When comparing May to July this year to the same months in 2011, figures for Hester's Way showed:
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* Overall crime fell by 13.5 per cent from 185 to 160.
* Violent crimes fell from 34 to 29.
* Criminal damage dropped from 46 to 27.
* Drug offences fell from 14 to 6.
The initiative, set up in memory of PC Lynn Aston, places youngsters aged from 10 to 18 from the town's roughest neighbourhoods on to work placements. It also runs an incentive scheme, which sees them enjoy activities they would never normally get a chance to do.
Inspector Jon Roberts, who leads a team in Hester's Way and Whaddon, said: "The reduction in criminal damage is one we are certainly proud of as we believe this improvement stems in great part to the excellent work being carried out in the area through the Aston Project."
The latest figures show criminal damage dropped by 41 per cent from May to the end of July this year, when compared to the same months the previous year.
There were 27 incidents, compared to 46 in 2011. Overall crime has also gone down by 13.5 per cent, from 185 to 160 incidents.
Voluntary work being done by youngsters on the project has ranged from helping out in shops to assisting mechanics. Through this, they are able to build up credits for fun activities, such as fishing trips and diving. If they misbehave, they cannot 'bank' their credits until they have behaved for a certain length of time. "We are not just picking on the bad kids," added Inspector Roberts.
"The point is we are trying to engage with all the kids. Those vulnerable to antisocial behaviour and those already engaged in early antisocial behaviour are drawn into the Aston Project, alongside other kids who have been put forward by schools for being model pupils."
The scheme has been rolled out in the Hester's Way and Whaddon areas of the town.
There are currently 90 children involved in it, with some from outside Cheltenham. Police hope to expand it to other areas of Gloucestershire.
PC Aston, originally from Churchdown, died last year at the age of 48, following a brave battle with cancer.