A SCHEME that has helped reduce violent crime in bars and pubs in Bolton town centre by more than 30 per cent has gained national recognition for its pioneering work.

Best Bar None was introduced in Bolton in January last year and is now leading the way for the scheme in Greater Manchester.

The scheme is aimed at encouraging bars to work together towards a safer night time economy.

Around 20 Bolton town centre venues have signed up and there has been a 32 per cent reduction in violent crime in licensed premises in the town.

Last month, representatives travelled to the House of Lords for the national Best Bar None awards and the Bolton scheme won best new scheme.

PC Natalie Dolan, of Greater Manchester Police, also won the outstanding commitment award.

When she approached bar owners in Bolton about the scheme, they told her that trade was down and about the problems they were having and she suggested Best Bar None as a solution.

She said: "I said 'you can just let it go or do something about it'.

"They decided we were going to go for it and we founded a steering committee.

"If we can make people feel safe when they are going around Bolton, that is what the premises are trying to do."

Many venues in the town centre have received recognition for the work they have done to make their venues safer and none more so than Level, which is rated as platinum under the Best Bar None scheme.

PC Andy Vernon, GMP's divisional licensing officer for Bolton, said: "They have been going above and beyond. They are doing really well."

Bars and clubs gain accreditation by meeting certain criteria including training for staff and use of a radio system.

One of the most successful parts of the initiative has been the Ask for Angela scheme.

If someone feels threatened in a bar they ask bar staff for Angela and they will get them the help they needed.

PC Dolan said there has already been several incidents where a potential assault was prevented because of the scheme.

It is hoped the scheme can continue to grow even more over the next couple of years and new elements can be added.

These include student safe zones, designated businesses where students can go if they feel unsafe, and a mobile phone app, where people can track friends' location and make sure they are safe.

The success of the scheme has allowed it to be rolled out in Westhoughton and other areas of Greater Manchester.

PC Vernon said: "When people talk about what we have done in Bolton they say they also want to do it."

The scheme first started in Manchester in 2003 and there are now more than 100 schemes running around Greater Manchester.