A police campaign pursuing pick-pockets and shoplifters in Bradford has been a success with crime falling, including a 45 per cent reduction in the number of personal robberies.

More officers and special constables were drafted in to the city centre in the run up to Christmas to deter would-be criminals and warn them of the consequences should they be caught, as part of Operation Shocker.

The number of thefts from city centre shops during December 2013 was 66, compared to 83 in December 2012 – a drop of 20 per cent. Personal robberies were down from 11 to six and theft from person crimes, such as pick-pocketing, dropped by four to 44.

Jon Best, acting inspector for the City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “They’re all good reductions in all the areas we were focusing on.

“The whole intention is to reduce it as much as we can and to get people out at the right time and location.”

During the first two weeks of the operation local officers were joined by up to four colleagues a day from the UK Borders Agency. Acting Insp Best said they were specifically looking at criminals from Eastern Europe who could be made to return to their homeland for breaking the law.

“We’ve got problems with Eastern Europeans that target people and shops in the city centre and they were looking at assisting with them,” he said.

Businesses in the city were particularly supportive of the operation, he added.

“The shops were over the moon. It’s a big problem for them, their losses go up over the December period.

“I get a bit concerned when I see an officer patrolling in my street at home and wonder what’s going on because it’s not the usual place to see them, but it’s nice for shoppers to see that in the city,” Acting Insp Best said.

“There have been 40 or 50 fewer victims of crime throughout December. That’s 40 or 50 fewer people that are getting a significant upset in what should be a happy time to celebrate and give gifts to other people and celebrate.”

Acting Insp Best said further special operations were planned for the coming weeks, but said he could not go into detail for operational reasons.

He added: “People that are living off crime are in for some rude awakenings in the New Year.”