A pilot scheme in Lancaster that redeployed traffic wardens as community safety patrol officers has led to a 14 per cent reduction in crime and disorder.
In addition to the drop in crime, independent research shows that during the six-month pilot scheme, reassurance levels among the public increased by more than 10 per cent.
The initiative was launched by Lancaster Police in October 2001 when six traffic wardens were re-trained to help patrol the community and ease the burden on police time.
The officers helped build better communications with the local community and co-ordinated with other agencies to deal with public concerns on littering, vandalism and juvenile behaviour.
Victor Robinson, HR manager at Lancaster Police, said the scheme had now been extended for another 12 months and the area covered by the officers widened.
"We're expanding this in the long term to see what the impact will be. They've helped reduce problems and linked up with other agencies to get things done," he said.
As part of their duties, the wardens helped create diversions in areas experiencing juvenile nuisance by setting up football matches and other activities.
Community safety staff are a key strand of David Blunkett's Police Reform Bill, but the Lancaster trial had a crucial difference because the wardens weren't given any police powers.
"The Government wants some community officers to have limited police powers, but we decided against that. Over the course of the pilot they didn't need them," added Robinson.
By Ross Wigham