A NEW way of offering crime prevention advice and support to people has been hailed a success.

Shoppers at Bells Store, in Murray Street, Hartlepool, were able to receive advice on protecting themselves and their homes on Thursday.

Colin Hopkins, formerly the local police crime prevention officer, who works in a similar role in the town's New Deal for Communities (NDC) area, and Victim Support project worker Chris Paul spent two hours talking to customers.

They discussed people's concerns and asked for their views on a range of issues, and invited them to fill in questionnaires.

Mr Hopkins said: "Many people feel uncomfortable attending formal events, but the relaxed style of this initiative seemed to appeal to people, many of whom spoke to us quite openly.

"This information will now be analysed and it should prove useful in making sure future community safety initiatives directly address people's most pressing concerns.

"It was particularly interesting to note just how many people said they felt so much safer since alley-gates had been put up at the entrances to their back streets to prevent unauthorised access."

Any business in Hartlepool which would like to help by staging a similar event is asked to call Mr Hopkins, on (01429) 894046, or Mr Paul, on (01429) 287122.