A ONCE notorious housing estate in Preston has been hailed as an example of how crime can be cut and public confidence boosted.

A year ago Ingol was chosen by the Home Office to take part in a pilot scheme called the National Reassurance Project.

The aim was to cut crime and the fear of crime and 12 months down the line the estate has been transformed.

A year ago anti-social behaviour was top of residents' priorities, and now the estate has changed so much that dog fouling is top priority.

Instances of anti-social behaviour are down 34 percent, household burglary has been reduced by 57 percent, arson is down by 36 percent, and there has been a 23 percent fall in criminal damage.

Community leaders and police say the change has come because of a co-ordinated approach.

Bill McGrath, chairman of Ingol Community Association, said: "The change is amazing, it's not one single thing that has made the difference, but everyone working together to improve Ingol."

"The same youths that were causing problems on the estate have helped to clear up the streets."

In a residents' survey carried out in 2003 anti-social behaviour was the top concern for 69 percent of the people, and in a survey carried out in August that number had dropped to 14 percent, overtaken by dog fouling which was the main concern for 18 percent of the estate.

"People are more willing to come forward with problems now, because they see that something is being done," added Mr McGrath.

Chief Superintendent Russ Weaver, of Preston police, added: "The national reassurance trial at Ingol has been extremely successful, not only in bringing local people and public services closer together to solve local problems, but also in giving people a genuine influence over what is given priority.

"Local services ought to be about satisfying the public and this project has made great progress towards that."