Christmas crackdown cuts crime by a third

CRIME in the city centre is reported to have fallen by almost a third last month following a crackdown on alcohol-related violence over the festive period.

The same initiative also saw 88 litres of alcohol confiscated from under-18s after drinking hot-spots in the city were targeted.

Operation Astrodome, which saw officers working with the council and British Transport Police, resulted in crime rates falling from a three-year average of 704 during December to 468 – a reduction of 29 per cent.

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Compared with last year, the number of minor assaults in the city centre dropped throughout the festive period, while the number of fixed penalty notices issued increased, which police say demonstrates a more "proactive" approach to combating antisocial behaviour.

Superintendent Mark Williams said: "I am delighted that Operation Astrodome has proved to be such a success for the third year running. The benefits of partnership working are clear to see and I am encouraged by these figures that show a considerable drop in recorded crime across the city centre throughout December."

As well as stepping up patrols at the Winter Wonderland and extending coverage from the mobile CCTV unit, shoplifters were also targeted during the operation, with more offenders being caught by police and security staff.

Deploying "transport marshals" to monitor six key taxi ranks alongside police in the city centre is also said to have helped to reduce drunken disorder.

Cutting youth disorder on buses was also a major part of the operation, with checks being carried out on main routes. Licensing standards officers, along with police, made more than 400 visits to clubs and off-licences.

Councillor Paul Edie, the city's community safety leader, said: "I am delighted to hear that this initiative has once more had a significant impact on the crime rate.

"Prevention is also key to this type of initiative, and I'm sure the highly visible presence of both police and community and environmental wardens prevented a great number of antisocial and alcohol-related offences."

Inspector Sue Maxwell, officer in charge of the east sector of British Transport Police, added: "The results speak for themselves. During an Operation Shield undertaken in conjunction with our colleagues at Lothian and Borders Police, no offensive weapons were found on any of the hundreds of young people stopped and searched after being invited to be scanned through portable metal detectors."