A SHIFT towards more local policing in Bolton has allowed officers to pinpoint anti-social behaviour hotspots and “flood” particular areas with officers. Reporter TOM MOLLOY joined police on patrol to see the work that is being done.

“TO have the biggest impact, the best tool we have is making that first


Sgt Peter Crowe is passionate about making Bolton’s neighbourhoods safer and tackling the anti-social behaviour that blights so many communities.

In recent weeks a massive shake-up to neighbourhood policing in Bolton has meant more bobbies on the beat.

And Sgt Crowe has been a major player in that move with a series of anti-social behaviour patrols aimed at tackling the issues at the root.

This weekend, as officers geared up for the bank holiday, the 11-year force veteran invited The Bolton News out on one of his patrols.

“Weekends and school holidays are always the busiest periods for anti-social behaviour,” Sgt Crowe explained.

So we hit the town.

The night before the patrol, two teenagers were injured and another was arrested after trouble broke out on the playing fields close to St James’s School, in Farnworth.

So, Sgt Crowe made Farnworth our first port of call and also mentioned that Great Lever and Farnworth Golf Club had been having problems with yobs.

On arrival, we spotted a group of around eight boys walking down Cutacre Lane, close to Logistics North. Sgt Crowe pulled up alongside them and asked if they knew anything and they claimed to have seen videos of the incident on Snapchat.

But the boys’ clothing led the eagle-eyed officer to believe that they were not involved.

“Their trainers are too clean to have been on a muddy field the night before,” he said.

As we paroled the area, the streets seemed quieter than expected. An inevitable consequence of the miserable weather, Sgt Crowe explained.

After driving up through Westhoughton, Blackrod and Horwich, we headed for Halliwell.

In Chorley Old Road, Sgt Crowe asked another group of boys why they were out in such miserable weather.

“We used to have a youth club around here but they shut it down,” one of them replied.

The boys also claimed that they did not want to go to Bolton Lads and Girls Club because there are “too many people”.

Sgt Crowe thinks there may have been another reason.

“Bolton Lads and Girls Club is a great place but there’s a lot of rules and a lot of these kids don’t like rules,” he said.

The patrol then had to stop for a short while after Sgt Crowe spotted some drugs activity near Central Street car park, in the town centre.

One of the men was arrested for a separate matter and was taken to the custody suite at Bury Police station

Back on patrol, a visit to Bromley Cross and Eagley revealed that some problems residents were complaining about seem to have subsided.

Over the Easter weekend, there were reports of a group of youths setting off fireworks. Sgt Crowe said he caught two of them but decided to take them to their parents rather than arrest them.

Explaining his philosophy, he said: “I don’t want to be enforcing against 13, 14 and 15 year olds.

“The first time you arrest someone their world implodes but every time they’re in custody it has lesser effect.

“To have the biggest impact, the biggest tool we have is that first arrest. I’d much rather speak to their parents and put that first arrest off until it’s absolutely necessary.”

But what does Sgt Crowe think can be done in future to help tackle ASB once and for all?

“We just need people to tell us their concerns and we can continue to pinpoint these certain areas.

“We’re actually speaking with schools with a view to getting staff to assist us because often there are big groups and it’s hard to pinpoint the troublemakers. Personally, I’m also very open to taking parents out to see what the issues are. That’s a long way down the line though.”

For now, the streets are quiet and we head back to the station.