POLICE are going out on a new beat inside East Lancashire's town halls in a bid to beat rowdy youngsters and neighbours from hell.

Officers are to be stationed inside Blackburn and Accrington town halls to join forces with council workers as part of the the local Crime and Disorder Partnership -- the brainchild of Home Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw.

As from next Monday, PC John Chapman will be stationed in Accrington Town Hall and PC Peter Wareing will be based in Blackburn Town Hall.

Officers, who will sometimes be in uniform, will improve safety in the buildings by dealing with incidents they see but their main duties will involve solving problems quickly with the help of residents, community groups, traders and council staff.

The scheme has been spearheaded by Chief Superintendent John Thompson who launched similar projects in Wyre and Lancaster -- the only others in the north west.

Chief Inspector Andy Pratt who has helped to organise the project said: "There are a lot of crime and disorder issues that can only be solved if the police and council work together.

"At the moment we do this by meetings and passing information between the police station and the town hall.

"Now our officers will be in the town hall and will be able to go and knock and the relevant department's door straight away.

"We are also hoping to network the computers between the police station and town halls so officers can access information quickly."

The move is an extension of the police's existing crime and disorder community groups in the town centre, Mill Hill and Whitebirk, as well as groups aimed at improving racial harmony and tackling drugs.

Chief Inspector Pratt said: "If someone reports juvenile nuisance to us, it is an issue that we and the town hall can work together to solve.

"We can speak to the youngsters and the youth service can get involved to set up youth clubs or activities in an area.

"Or if residents complain about a spate of car break-ins near their homes, we could ask the council if the lighting could be improved, or if footpaths can be changed.

"All these things can have an effect on the levels of crime."

Hyndburn Council's regeneration manager Harry Ballantyne said: "I think this is an excellent scheme. We already work very closely with the police and a wide range of organisations through our crime and disorder partnership and this project will strengthen it even further.

"Everyone in the council, from officers and councillors to members of the public will now have someone they can go to with issues relating to them and he can direct them to the most appropriate person to help.

"On the other hand if the police have an issue involving the council, rather than ringing up and hoping that the person on the other end is the person they need to speak to they can speak to PC Chapman and he will act as a liaison officer.

"The police and council work together very closely on things like Anti Social Behaviour Orders and tackling burglary and this scheme will strengthen our partnership."

Coun Ashley Whalley, executive member for Regeneration for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "This is a pioneering move and we are one of the first authorities in the country to take this step, which has the full backing of the Home Office.

"The aim of the secondment is to ensure much closer partnership working on crime prevention and community safety issues.

"The Crime and Disorder Act placed more impetus on councils and police working together with the private sector, health authority, probation service and the community in promoting community safety and this initiative is part of our strategy for meeting these demands."