THOUSANDS of extra hours of police patrols - scheduled due to concerns that town centre crime was being pushed out to surrounding wards - has resulted in a ‘crucial’ reduction in antisocial behaviour.

A Home Office grant of £1m was given to tackle low-level disorder through the Operation Civitas scheme, which saw more than 2,500 hours of patrols put on in the town centre and its neighbouring Kingstone and Worsbrough wards between July 2023 and the end of March this year.

An additional 816 hours of local authority patrols were also carried out, which bosses say helped to yield crime reductions in ten ‘hotspot’ locations put forward by local residents.

Antisocial behaviour reports are down by almost 30 per cent and updates on the future plan of action will be given at a Barnsley Central Neighbourhood Policing Team PACT meeting on Tuesday.

Findings at PACT meetings - which stands for police and communities together - were cited as key reasons why the extra patrols were laid on.

Inspector Richard Langham said: “We’ve been listening to our communities and responding to their concerns.

“Following a PACT meeting we focused our attention toward Oakwell, along with the work in the public space protection order (PSPO) area.

“Latest figures have been released from Operation Civitas, which is a Home Office-funded operation that involves high-visibility patrols in targeted hotspot areas.

“This saw some of the team working with our partners and local community to increase patrols and intelligence-gathering in the area while establishing community events and groups to increase community cohesion.

“We’ve been supported by two student officers in the central area’s team who spent their time working with our team inside and outside the PSPO area.

“This saw them learn more about problem-solving policing and how effective partnerships can help improve communities, reduce levels of antisocial behaviour and criminality.”

The PSPO - a long-held, council-imposed initiative which focuses on the town centre - identifies offenders and effectively ban them from entering its zone.

It’s been hailed as a key reason as to why town centre crime rates have fallen.

Peel Street, Midland Street, Peel Square, Wellington Street, Eldon Street, Race Street, Peel Parade, Sackville Street, Market Hill and County Way are all covered by it, however residents in neighbouring wards blamed the PSPO for pushing problems elsewhere.

Coun Steve Bullcock, who represents the Kingstone ward, added: “Areas which surround the town centre have been let down because although the PSPO is fantastic for that central location around the Glass Works, banning those responsible means they’ve stayed close but gone elsewhere.

“The dealing and taking of drugs has been rife through no fault of residents, who have kind of inherited the issue.

“I’m pleased with the response and it’s certainly helped address matters.

“I’m keen to see a long-term plan put in place to make sure this positive work doesn’t become pointless.”