STREET wardens are clearing a district's graffiti in a bid to reduce the fear of crime.

Wear Valley street wardens are hoping that by ridding some of the area's parks and estates of graffiti they can help to make people feel safer.

To help them with their task, they have been presented with a high-pressure hose by the Wear and Tees Safety Partnership.

Warden manager Roger Ward said that the new equipment would make the job a lot easier.

He said: "Before, we were having to go round and paint the graffiti with a mild paint stripper and take it off manually with a brush. It was hard work and time consuming.

"This new water jetter means that we are able do the job a lot easier and a lot quicker.''

One of the first jobs took place at the Glenholme Skatepark, in Crook, where the wardens demonstrated to local police officers how effective the new washer is.

Mr Ward said: "We will be using this throughout the warden-patrolled areas of both Crook and Bishop Auckland.

"We have a close working relationship with the police in both towns and they will contact us if they feel that there is any obscene or racist graffiti that would need removing urgently so it is not seen by children or people who could be offended by it."

Mr Ward said graffiti that is not racist or obscene will still be cleaned away by the probation service, but the street wardens can now tackle the more offensive material quickly with the new equipment.

Mr Ward said: "We always try to clear it as soon as we can.''

Beat officer for Crook, PC Peter Collingwood, said that the clearing of the graffiti was another example of how well the police and the street wardens have been working together since February when the warden scheme was introduced in Crook.

He said: "The wardens and the new police community safety officers are a great help.

"They are our eyes and ears on the ground."