POLICE initiative Operation Dasher, which was carried out in Marlborough over the Christmas period to prevent and detect crime, has been hailed a success.

The operation was adopted from Swindon and saw an increase in high-visibility policing with more than 75 additional hours spent on foot patrols by officers.

Sergeant Barry Reed said: “Unfortunately around Christmas thieves do not stop, they are opportunists and certainly, in a lot of places, crime does rise quite dramatically through December.

“We’ve focused on use of social media, putting out key messages about safety, locking doors, not leaving property in your cars and, as a result, we have seen a reduction in domestic burglaries and theft from vehicles throughout December.

“Although 75 hours over the 31 days doesn’t sound a lot, when you’ve got a team of three and three PCSOs it is quite an increase. “It’s something we cannot sustain throughout the year and we can only do it at specific times because of our demand elsewhere.”

Compared to last December the amount of anti-social behaviour, burglary and theft decreased by at least 20 per cent.

But there was an increase in criminal damage offences and of violence against a person.

“Criminal damage and violence against a person is where we’ve fallen down this year and that’s where we’ve seen the increases,” Sgt Reed said. “A number of them were related to domestic incidents where ex- partners, or a partner, have either damaged a property or a vehicle.

“It’s exactly the same with violence against a person. “We saw an increase from six to 12 this year throughout December but again ten of the 12 were domestic, something we can’t predict and something that happens at this time of year when alcohol is involved.”

As part of the operation, Marlborough police also carried out five public consultations and spoke to more than 60 people aged between 15 and 87.

Most of those consulted highlighted road safety and fear of crime as their biggest concerns, so the neighbourhood policing team will be focusing on these areas during the next three to six months.