CHILDREN in Bury and Radcliffe are benefiting from money taken from criminals.

Ten years after the launch of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), Greater Manchester Police is continuing to re-invest its portion of ill-gotten gains into worthy community projects, and helping to break down barriers between children and the police.

Youth groups in the borough are just some of the initiatives that have reaped the benefits.

In Bury, criminals' money has paid for an initiative with the charity Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) which saw a cafe for youngsters being established on two evenings a month at Bury Fire Station.

In Radcliffe, youngsters have benefited from free five-a-side football at Radcliffe Borough FC which keeps children off the streets and builds a relationship with local officers.

Since the launch of the programme in January, 2012, there has been a 51 per cent reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour in Radcliffe compared to the previous year, with 300 fewer incidents.

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: “The work done in Radcliffe gives a concrete example of the benefits of activities like this; 300 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour means 300 fewer decent members of the public being upset, aggrieved or inconvenienced, and 300 fewer occasions where officers and local authorities have to respond.

“The reduction in anti-social behaviour also demonstrates that children there feel less disengaged, less inclined to commit crime and feel more a part of our communities.”

He added: “As a police force, we are privileged to have the opportunity to decide where to reinvest money from criminals and we believe the best is yet to come.

“We have excellent local knowledge of the communities we serve, which includes the risks posed by crime, so we have a unique perspective as we go about our deliberations.”

In 2012 alone, judges ordered that criminals repay a total of £3,378,969, from their cash and assets, following financial investigations carried out by Greater Manchester Police, targeting fraudsters, drug dealers and those involved in organised crime.

Once money and assets have been recovered from criminals and, where possible victims have been reimbursed, a process then begins where the police receive 17.5 per cent of proceeds.

Specific Government guidelines have advised forces that any money it receives under POCA should be spent on worthy community projects or a service to the community.