A CLEAN-UP initiative has already helped more than 6,000 homes benefit from reduced crime and a safer environment since its launch.

Operation Clean Sweep is a radical approach to cleansing by concentrating resources in a particular area of Hartlepool over a five-day period.

The initiative is the brainchild of Mayor Stuart Drummond.

It also involves Hartlepool Borough Council, police officers and fire brigade.

The operation addresses issues such as crime, health, environment, safety and education.

Residents are also actively encouraged to get involved and contribute ideas.

The next clean-up will begin in the Owton Manor area today and will be the 11th to take place since the operation was launched last year.

Mayor Drummond said: "The Clean Sweep initiative has been hugely effective, and its first birthday is a real cause for celebration.

"Operation Clean Sweep has certainly helped put this town on the map.

"We have hosted a number of fact-finding visits for people from other parts of the country and other authorities interested in setting up similar schemes."

The Owton Manor clean-up will target about 600 properties in an area bordered by Wynyard Road, Catcote Road, Brierton Lane and Eskdale Road.

Activities will include pruning over-grown shrubs, replacing missing street nameplates, removing graffiti and re-painting streetlight columns.

Members of Cleveland Police's crime prevention unit will patrolling the shops throughout the week and truancy patrols will also be mounted.