ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour has been cut down by 50 percent in Leigh town centre, police say, as vehicle theft and the use of illegal bikes are on the rise.

Over the years, residents have grown increasingly concerned with anti-social behaviour in the town centre, with drug and alcohol abuse, criminal damage and trespassing reported as common problems.

With a targeted focus through projects like Operation Bluefin and neighbour policing, Greater Manchester Police have recorded half the number of anti-social behaviour crimes in Leigh town centre than it did last year.

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Leigh Journal: Neighbourhood policing has been one of Emily Higham's main priorities as Chief SuperintendentNeighbourhood policing has been one of Emily Higham's main priorities as Chief Superintendent (Image: GMP)

With neighbourhood policing one of Emily Higham's main priorities on her appointment as Chief Superintendent back in 2021, officers are said to have spent tens of thousands more hours patrolling the town centre and particular anti-social hotspots such as McDonald's on Bradshawgate.

Through partnerships with the local authority, business owners, community groups, and the MP, there has also been a collaborative effort to improve the town centre's environment and increase deterrents such as improved CCTV and street lighting.

A targeted campaign to raise awareness of anti-social behaviour among residents and local businesses has also been in operation, while partnerships with youth organisations such as Leigh Youth Hub also assist the situation by giving young people a safe place to spend time.

Leigh Journal: GMP have partnered with business owners and community groups to tackle anti-social behaviourGMP have partnered with business owners and community groups to tackle anti-social behaviour (Image: Leigh Means Business)

While officers have made improvements in curbing anti-social behaviour related issues, Chief Spt Higham admitted that the use of illegal motorbikes has been an increasing problem of late.

Young people have been reported to be dangerously riding off-road motorbikes and illegal quad bikes in areas such as Leigh Guided Busway, Bickershaw Country Park, Higher Folds, Westleigh, and Tyldesley.

Leigh Journal: An off-road motorbike seized by Atherton and Tyldesley officersAn off-road motorbike seized by Atherton and Tyldesley officers (Image: GMP)

Chief Spt Higham said that officers will patrol these hotspot areas, search for the individuals using them and the locations they are stored at, and seize any vehicles seen being dangerously ridden.

With a "significant" amount of these off-road bikes stolen from innocent residents, the Chief Spt stressed that people lock these vehicles securely inside a property, as burglaries and vehicle thefts historically increase in the summer months.

Anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and alcohol-related crimes are other issues that tend to increase in the warmer weather, which the Chief Spt stressed that officers will be on top of following its recent improvements in tackling anti-social behaviour and more generally since its special measures spell.