POLICE in Verwood say that reports of anti-social behaviour in the town have fallen by almost a quarter in the last year.

Officers from the force launched Operation Keeper in July 2013 after a spike in reports of low-level crime in the town centre and Potterne area.

The initiative allows police to order troublemakers away under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

As a result, Dorset Police says the number of reported incidents fell by 24 per cent from 196 to 149, while the number of calls received about such behaviour also dropped by 24 per cent from 445 to 338.

Sergeant Nikki Loftus said: “There had been a problem with anti-social behaviour in Verwood for a number of years.

“A core group of people were showing total disregard for the community in which they live and some robust policing was needed.

“I am pleased to say that this has had the desired effect and anti-social behaviour is no longer a problem in Verwood and the surrounding area.

“I would like to remind anyone considering acting in an anti-social manner that Dorset Police will not tolerate this level of nuisance within east Dorset and we will take action against you.”

Dorset Police are working with partners, including the Dorset Youth Service, Synergy Housing Association and the East Dorset Community Safety Team to ensure that young people are kept safe and not encouraged to get involved in anti-social behaviour.

A spokesperson from the force said: “Anyone who comes to the attention of either organisation on more than one occasion will receive a visit from a police officer and member of the council or housing association’s anti-social behaviour team.

“Anyone aged over 16 is monitored through a similar process and are made aware of the long-term implications of their behaviour.”

To report incidents of anti-social behaviour in your community call 101.