BOLTON town centre’s inspector bade farewell to the borough after more than a year in the role.

Insp Andy Sidebotham, who leads the Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, has spoken of his time working in Bolton over the past 14 months.

Next week he will be taking the reigns as a chief inspector at Greater Manchester Police’s headquarters in Newton Heath, covering the North Manchester division.

Insp Sidebotham said one of the highlights of working in the town has been the work his team has done alongside licensed premises, taxi firms and other agencies to improve Bolton.

A big push was made to make the town centre safer following a number of violent incidents and police officers being attacked last summer.

Insp Sidebotham said: “If criminals will assault police constables they won’t think twice about assaulting other people. It was a watershed moment for us where we completely changed our approach by increasing resources into the night- time economy.

“I am really pleased with the work with licensed premises, taxi firms and police to make Bolton a better place.” He said the work has resulted in licensees taking “ownership” of the town centre.

Violent incidents in the town centre have fallen by 11 per cent over the past year from January, 2013, to January, 2014.

Anti-social behaviour has dropped by 12 per cent over the same period. Since Insp Sidebotham was appointed in the role last year, Student Safety Zones have been introduced throughout the town.

Having worked in Manchester with the universities there, he saw the benefit of students having a safe place to wait or visit when they feel vulnerable.

Insp Sidebotham said Bolton students like the zones and they have been used by people — for example when they are concerned they are being followed.

He added that he is proud of the community and the dedicated officers he has worked with at Bolton Central.

Insp Sidebotham said: “The community in Bolton really make it.

“There’s some really genuinely nice people who try their best to look after their neighbours, look after the community and we are indebted to them.

“I have enjoyed working with the communities — that’s what has been the best part of the job for me.

“What I am really pleased about is I know we have a team of officers and Police Community Support Officers absolutely dedicated to giving criminals a hard time and doing their absolute best for victims and the wider community.”