CRIMINALS are warned to stay away from Cwmbran after 17 yobs and shoplifters were banned from 55 stores and pubs last month in a tough crackdown on crime.

A total of 22 offenders were arrested shoplifting and anti-social behaviour with 17 banned from Cwmbran town centre.

Gwent Police put the success down to the use of daily patrols, CCTV cameras in the town centre, which are monitored 24 hours a day from a control room and a radio link between shops, pubs and police officers.

The pro-active approach by Gwent Police and the Cwmbran Businesses Against Crime Partnership, (CBAC) reported a 36 per cent drop in crime in August compared to last year and said anti social behaviour has also dropped by 20 per cent in the same period.

Police Sergeant Scott Thomas, who is responsible for the Neighbourhood Team in Cwmbran said: "Shoplifting is a problem for any town but here in Cwmbran we are working together to arrest and deal with offenders."

"Our message to those coming to Cwmbran to commit crime is – you will be caught."

All store managers who sign up to the scheme use the system to provide immediate updates on their location, enabling patrolling officers to arrest them quickly.

In June, 47 members of staff received training on what signs to look out for when spotting a shoplifter and what to do if offenders are spotted.

CBAC meets each month to discuss new tactics on how to tackle offenders, share information and review all arrested and decides on banning notices.

Members pay a nominal annual fee towards the cost of equipment whilst Cwmbran Shopping owns and operates the centre’s CCTV system.

The centre, which was visited by an average of 361,000 people a week last month, saw crimes drop from 50 to 32 year-on-year and anti-social incidents fall to 16 from 20.

Centre manager, Gerry Hutchings, said: "At Cwmbran Shopping we aim to create a safe and friendly environment for all our customers, and working in partnership with Gwent Police plays a key role in achieving that aim.

"To have such positive support from the police and to have their officers on highly visible patrols around the town centre is paying dividends when it comes to deterring criminals and to reducing crime figures year on year."