POLICE chiefs yesterday hailed the success of a teenage curfew imposed on a troubled North-East estate.

The public order action has proved so effective that the "off the streets order" has been lifted more than two weeks early.

In April, police applied for a section 30 order under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act in an attempt to improve a deteriorating situation on the Deneside estate, in Seaham, County Durham.

Under the terms of the order, officers were given the power to disperse groups of two or more people if they were intimidating, alarming or causing distress to others.

They could order anyone who did not live in the designated area to leave and not return within 24 hours.

Police were also able to take under-16s home if they were out on the streets after 9pm, unless they were under adult supervision or had a plausible reason for being out after dark.

The order came into effect on Monday, April 26, for a maximum six-month period.

It was put in place after a string of complaints about problems caused by gangs of young people.

On average, police were receiving about 50 calls a month complaining of anti-social behaviour, underage drinking and vandalism

But yesterday, police informed District of Easington Council that they no longer wished the section 30 order to remain in force and it was lifted with immediate effect.

Seaham's local police chief, Inspector Geoff Smith, said: "The order has been a great success and helped bring about real improvements in the quality of life for residents in Deneside.

"Calls regarding youths causing a nuisance are down by a third, there have been far fewer acts of criminal damage, and arson incidents have almost become a thing of the past.

"There is also a lot planned for the future. The estate is shortly to get its own police community support officer and money is being ploughed into various youth initiatives by the local community safety partnership.''

Police will, however, keep a close eye on the situation and, if necessary, an application for a new order will be made.

A spokesman at Durham Police headquarters yesterday said there were no immediate plans for curfews to be introduced elsewhere in the force area, but they would be considered if other trouble spots were identified.