A police boss has set up a special fund to help communities in North Wales fight crime – using money seized from villains.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is urging local groups to bid for the cash with the winners being chosen by a public vote online.

The Community Fund is being set up jointly by Mr Jones, North Wales Police and the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).

A total of £40,000 will be up for grabs – with £2,500 apiece for two groups in each county and £5,000 each for two groups that operate across North Wales.

The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is being partly funded by the money recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash confiscated from offenders with the rest coming from the Police Commissioner.

Community groups are being urged to apply between September 5 and September 30 using the Your Community, Your Choice application form which will be available on the website of North Wales Police. There will also be a link to the form on the commissioner’s website.

A shortlist of applicants will be chosen by a special panel and from October 31 to November 25.Members of the public will decide which groups to support via the online vote.

Mr Jones said: “I think it’s an excellent idea that money coming from the proceeds of crime is being put back into communities to repair the damage that’s been caused by criminal activity.

“It’s an opportunity for people to  say what they want, what their priorities are, what they would like to see more of and the Community Fund is giving them money to do what they think is best for their communities.

“I think that smaller community groups can do a great deal to make communities safer, reduce crime and reduce re-offending.

“It also send a very good message to the communities because shows that we are prepared to listen and to let them make their own decisions.

Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki was equally enthusiastic.

He said: “I think it’s a hugely important initiative. It’s really valuable because it provides an opportunity for the community to bid into funding, part of which has been taken from the pockets of criminals and partly which is provided through the Commissioner’s fund.

It gives the community the opportunity to bid into that funding and to work with their local police in solving community problems which is exactly how it should work.

“It is a real plus that money taken directly from criminals’ pockets, is actually being used for something good within the community so it’s bad money being used for the common good within the community which I think is something that absolutely the community would want and they can see the importance of that.

“It does send a really important message out that if you commit a crime, North Wales Police will do everything that it can in order to bring you to justice and your ill-gotten gains from that crime can be taken from you and can be ploughed back, as is the case here, to community based initiatives.”

PACT chairman David Williams added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund.

“I think the breadth of our grant giving right across North Wales, from the tip of the west to the furthest part of the east, really sends a strong message to communities to access this money, it’s there for them.

“Very appropriately, one of the conditions is that the people who apply for this money have to be doing something that combats anti-social behaviour or addresses crime and disorder in some way.

“The aims Your Community, Your Choice scheme also coincide with the objectives of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan so it creates a virtuous circle.”

PACT manager Dave Evans explained “The fund will be open for application by email using a standard application form.

“This pre-notification period will hopefully give community groups the opportunity to develop their applications.

“Applicants have to be a properly constituted community group or a registered charity and the main criterion is that the project in question helps to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

“It gives us the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of community groups and also importantly gives our local neighbourhood policing teams the opportunity to engage with those groups and support them with those projects that they want to run.

“I would highly recommend that applicants considering putting in a bid liaise with their local neighbourhood policing team to discuss their bid and make sure that it is as comprehensive as possible.”

The opening date is September 5 and completed applications must be returned via email to yourcommunityyourchoice@nthwales.pnn.police.uk  by 5pm on the closing date of September 30. For more information ring 01745 588516.