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POLICE have pledged to maintain patrols in Crowthorne's crime hot spots after Operation Lancaster — the anti-social behaviour strategy — was halted because there were too few complaints.

A report due out this week effectively says the police resources involved in running the operation — aimed at tackling unruly behaviour by young people — could no longer be justified.

Sgt Jackie Phillips, of Crowthorne police, said there were not enough calls made to a dedicated police mobile phone to warrant continuing the operation, which she described as "a luxury".

However, she was keen to reassure residents they would not be abandoned by the police.

The operation was first put into action last year following a spate of disturbances from rowdy youths arriving on the train from Reading and gathering at Big Shotte Park on the lower Wokingham Road.

Residents complained that police responses were too slow to cope with an increase in youth crime.

This year's operation took place over 17 weeks, with a dedicated mobile phone line set up in a patrol car to provide a rapid response to calls between 10pm and 2am on Friday and Saturday nights during the school summer holidays.

The scheme ran from June 6 to September 7 and used two officers.

Results from this year's operation show that crime in Big Shotte Park has dramatically reduced since last year, with only one phone call to the control centre during the 17-week duration.

Throughout the operation, 40 youth-related calls were made to the mobile phone and the rest were from general police checks or from the control room.

Twenty-seven of those calls were from within Crowthorne and 13 calls were from Sandhurst.

Complaints ranged from youths causing a disturbance to drunken behaviour.

Sgt Phillips said: "With an average of 1.5 calls per night and three calls over a weekend, the figures speak for themselves.

"Operation Lancaster was a luxury."

But Sgt Phillips added: "Although Operation Lancaster won't be running any more, we still want residents to call the control room.

"We will still be policing crime hot spots on a regular basis to reduce further crime but the extra freedom gives us greater flexibility to deal with other problems."

"Community beat officers will still be dedicated to keeping a check on youths on Friday and Saturday nights."


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