A police crackdown has resulted in a 40 per cent drop in robberies in the coastal towns of Denbighshire.
The news was revealed during a visit to Rhyl by North Wales and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC who was also told that serious violent crime had been cut by 4.8 per cent, according to the latest set of weekly figures.
Among the streets in Rhyl where big improvements have been seen is Prince’s Street in the town’s West End, the second most deprived ward in Wales.
The police used to be called there around 35 times a month – now it’s down to once or twice a month.
As part of a masterplan to rejuvenate the seaside resort, a number of properties including single bedsits have been acquired by compulsory purchase order to make way for a £1.5 million community green space.
Meanwhile, more than 40 buildings and houses of multiple occupation on Aquarium Street and Gronant Street have been knocked down and new family housing has been developed.
According to Inspector Sian Williams, North Wales Police are also doing their bit to improve the area.
She said: “In terms of people’s perceptions externally, I think we’ve got an issue with what people think of Rhyl but it isn’t as bad to live, work and visit here as some people think. It really isn’t – I love working here and it’s a good place to be.
“We work very closely with the council under the regeneration area and I appreciate that money is tight but they’re actually looking at a marketing strategy now to actually attract the right businesses and people to the town.
“For our part, we’ve got various initiatives on the go and as soon as we see an emergency or a trend we put a plan in place to tackle it.
“Robberies in the division are down 40 per cent from last year, while crimes involving serious violence are down by 4.8 per cent.
“We’ve put a lot of work in, working with the shops. Using Crime Prevention Packs, we have targeted the prolific offenders and have ensured any justice via the court system has been meted out appropriately to those that do the most harm”
PC Les Jones explained to Mr Roddick and his deputy, Julian Sandham, how the force was reducing crime and anti-social behaviour by working in partnership with other local organisations.
He said: “My role is a Partnership Practitioner which is a boots on the ground type of role working with as many external partners as possible in the private sector, the public sector and the third sector.
“It makes a tangible difference. We rarely go to the locations that we always had to go to, Prince’s Street being one example. We used to have to go there 35 times a month, now it’s down to once or twice a month.
“There are many pockets of positivity in West Rhyl and its future looks bright. It’s important to focus on positives and not dwell on the negatives in order to change perceptions.”
Long serving councillor Joan Butterfield praised Commissioner Roddick for the way in which he had responded to the challenges posed by Rhyl and other deprived areas.
She said: “When he took office, he gave a promise that he would deal with areas of deprivation, saying that areas of deprivation would be on is hit list, to look, how we could improve the policing in areas like Rhyl West.
“We’ve made tremendous inroads into all the issues that have been blighting Rhyl West.
“The police have reinvented themselves in this challenging community. The tide is turning and the future is looking bright.”
Mr Roddick said: “All of the bodies working in partnership within Rhyl, with the police at the top of the list, the council, the housing associations, the health authority – they’ve all been pulling at the same end of the rope and that’s why Rhyl, in appearance and in dignity, has improved enormously.
“I’ve seen the improvement to the quality of the housing, the quality of the streets and roads, the quality of the promenade.
“It’s a recovery that’s providing jobs, better housing, better accommodation, a better social environment altogether.
“I would like to thank the local AM, Ann Jones, and the former MP, Chris Ruane, for their huge contribution to the improvements seen in Rhyl. Similarly, I would like to thank Denbighshire County Council for everything they are doing.
“I was very impressed by Clwyd Alyn Housing Association’s contribution to improving the appearance of Rhyl and the standards of the accommodation of its residents.
“The contribution of North Wales Police to improving the quality of life in Rhyl is inestimable and their successes clearly demonstrate the value of CCTV cameras in combating crime and anti-social behaviour.
“The force has demonstrated an acute understanding of the needs of the people of Rhyl and they’ve responded to it in a positive way thereby bringing about these immeasurable improvements that I’ve seen with my own eyes today.”