A pioneering programme devised by three councillors to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour has secured a £250,000 boost.

The HALO project, which was the brainchild of Hetton Labour councillors Claire Rowntree, Iain Scott and James Blackburn, has secured much-needed funding from the national Safer Streets Fund.

The funding will see the Northumbria Police area partnership benefit from a new CCTV network and a greater police presence in the community to help tackle rising levels of anti-social behaviour and crime.

Starting in February this year, HALO – the Hetton Aspirations Linking Opportunities – is seeing the City Council and a range of partners, including Northumbria Police, Gentoo, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue (TWF&R) working more closely together for the community. It follows a similar and successful project called SARA in Southwick – Southwick Altogether Raising Aspirations.

Hetton’s crime and anti-social behaviour work includes moves to tackle youth crime and gangs, including motorbike disorder; building up community engagement and resilience, as well as the CCTV investment.

Councillor Claire Rowntree is Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, Cabinet Member for Clean Green City and a Hetton ward councillor.

She said: “Hetton residents want greener, safer and cleaner streets. While we’ve seen a continual squeeze on our resources in recent years, we are a listening council and this funding is a welcome boost to our continued work with residents on tackling the issues that we know are important to them.

“Work in HALO is a mix of enforcement, prevention and education.

“Recognising and listening to what residents say, extra CCTV cameras will act as a deterrent to offenders by providing further evidence and intelligence that anti-social and criminal behaviour is not acceptable and offenders face prosecution.

“I know the vast majority of residents will join us as we ‘up the game’ in and around Hetton and continue with our work on making all of our city and neighbourhoods better and safer.

“If you know or see problems around Hetton whether it is littering or fly-tipping or other criminal activity it is always important to report them and this can always be done confidentially.”

Work programmes on CCTV locations and installation are being readied for coming months.

The bid for Hetton was part of a wider Northumbria Police area award of £731,516 that will see similar schemes in Birtley, Gateshead (£208,600) and West Denton in Newcastle (£261,458).

The extra funding and on-going work in Hetton and with HALO has been welcomed by the Northumbria Area Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

She said: “There’s been a lot of good work happening in Hetton around fighting crime and improving lives for local people. I’m pleased to hear it’s been paying off too – there’s been a notable fall in crime, something all neighbourhoods want to hear.

“For me, this funding is a great boost and means recent successes can be built upon. I look forward to seeing yet more improvements made that will benefit the whole community and help make sure people feel safe where they live and work.”

“While this is a huge boost for Hetton, we know there is still a lot more work to do and we’d like to reassure residents that we will continue working closely with organisations such as Northumbria Police and Sunderland City Council to clean up our streets and ensure that Hetton remains a great, safe place to live and raise a family,” Cllr Blackburn added.

The news comes a week after Home Secretary, Priti Patel, visited Sunderland for a crash course in community crimefighting from Labour.

The visit from Conservative Party frontbencher to see Sunderland’s Southwick Altogether Raising Aspirations (SARA) Project – heavily backed by the council as a community-based intervention to support Southwick – reflected ‘a Tory Party devoid of its own ideas on how to tackle crime’.

SARA works with those who reside in Southwick – from supporting victims of crime to providing education in schools dissuading impressionable teenagers away from a possible life of crime – to proactively address community issues. It also offers specialist advice, signposting individuals struggling with mental health towards vital support, addressing neighbourhood issues such as fly-tipping and litter, and providing an all-in-one centre for residents to raise concerns and speak to each organisation.

Speaking about the visit, Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Criminality is not being tackled under this Tory Government. Chronic underfunding of essential services like our police, as well as the NHS and local authorities, mean that the essential fabric that binds our communities has been cut to ribbons.

“It is only through our own innovation and proactive partnership work with Northumbria Police that we have been able to deliver a community-led, proactive approach to tackling criminality.

“While we hope the Home Secretary takes note of the excellent impact we have been able to deliver through genuine collaboration in Southwick, something we’re replicating in Hetton with the HALO Project, it is – frankly – evidence of a Government that is devoid of its own ideas; a Government that is dependent on innovative, collaborative Labour-led initiatives to mitigate the impact of services it has woefully underfunded for more than ten years.”

You can follow HALO on its LetsTalkHALO Facebook page to keep up to date with its work.