A TEAM of experts is working to tackle the problems of youth crime in Darlington.

Police, members of the town's community safety team and housing department staff are holding weekly meetings to share information about the worst known young offenders.

The aim is to ensure that repeat offenders are dealt with before they can commit any more crimes.

Andy Errington, head of youth offending and community safety service, said: "Burglary and theft from cars are the sort of crimes committed by young people. These are the sort of crimes that cause misery to people.

"By sharing information we can hopefully find these known criminals, many of whom are hidden by their peers or other offenders."

Each week the team concentrates on locating a different group of offenders by sharing information.

They also collect information on other youngsters who have been in trouble or are suspected of committing crimes. When they have gathered enough information they use it to try to apprehend those youths as well.

The crackdown on youth offending follows a successful campaign to reduce burglaries over the Christmas period.

Operation Velvet encouraged people to take basic precautions to prevent their homes being targeted by burglars and asked the public to report anything they felt was suspicious, to try to catch people while they were offending.

Leaflets were produced and distributed to homes throughout the Darlington area to show householders how they could protect their property.

Any areas that seemed to be targeted by burglars were also visited by police and community wardens, who distributed leaflets and spoke to residents about security.

Since Operation Velvet was launched only 56 burglaries have been committed in January, compared with 128 during the same period last year.

Detective Inspector Ian McDonald, of Darlington police, said: "This is a massive decrease and year-on-year burglary has decreased by 18 per cent.

"We have achieved this thanks to a partnership with the local authority and information from members of the public, as well as good police work. We have worked on intelligence to get these great results and we are continuing to target burglars."