A crime-fighting group has bought a network of portable CCTV cameras to protect communities across Flintshire – using money seized from villains.

The money given to the Flintshire and Wrexham Online Watch Link Association (OWL) came from a fund set up by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.

The £2,500 grant was particularly timely because the group is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is funded with cash confiscated from the area’s crooks and distributed by the police and crime commissioner, North Wales Police and the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).

Much of the money was recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s own funds.

It is one of 15 grants totalling over £40,000 given to support crime-fighting schemes by community organisations with an online vote deciding the successful applicants and almost 10,000 votes cast.

OWL’s chief officer, Denise Edwards, revealed that part of the grant was used to buy a network of 10 portable CCTV cameras.

She said: “Starting April it’s our 30 year celebration, and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved because he association is about grassroots it’s about serving the people and their neighbourhoods.

“The funding we have received from the proceeds of crime is about the criminals’ pain being turned into the community’s gain in Flintshire.

“The £2,500 has enabled us to achieve so much on behalf of the residents and we have tried to make it spread as far as we can by working with other agencies in a true community partnership.

“We’ve worked with probation on community payback projects, provided new street signage and crime prevention resource packs as well as developing new neighbourhood watch schemes.

“We also bought 10 additional CCTV cameras and they are all operational.

“These are actually in for areas all over Flintshire where referrals come from the police officers where communities are having problems, and so that does really well.

“For example we’re dealing with a hate crime issue at the moment and we’re dealing with a vulnerable older resident and neighbourhoods that have had anti-social behaviour.

“The cameras constantly go out on a loan basis. They’re not permanent fixtures so we can take them to where they’re needed.

“They’re portable and very valuable because they work really well.”

According to the association’s long-standing president, Lord Barry Jones, the former MP for Alyn and Deeside, the grant was the perfect anniversary present.

He said: “I have been president now for many years and I’ve seen this wonderful organisation grow in its impact and its extent across Wrexham and Flintshire, and the whole aim is to make life better for ordinary people in their homes.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Commissioner Arfon Jones who said: “The Your Community, Your Choice scheme takes  money under the proceeds of crime act right from the pockets of criminals who have committed offences within North Wales and puts it right where it should be, right in the heart of the community.

“OWL have an excellent track record of success in preventing crime in this area and they deserve not only our praise but also the financial backing we have given them. They are making sure the money is well spent.

“Community groups such as OWL are vital to the citizens of North Wales and in helping to ensure that our communities continue to be some of the safest places to live, work and visit in the UK.”

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki said: “OWL is a fantastic organisation that really serves the community well and we work really closely within North Wales Police with OWL.

“What they do is seek to harness the power of the community, because largely it’s led by volunteers and its people that really understand the issues of a local area and are really able to contribute something positive to them.

“I’m really pleased that some of the proceeds of crime funding has been pointed towards OWL because being right in the heart of the community they are able to spend that money well and effectively on behalf of the community.”

PACT trustee David Catherall added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund. “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.”