A new initiative launching in Weymouth will see council teams hit the streets in efforts to support the police and help the town become more 'family-friendly'.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's management committee agreed to introduce a Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) at a meeting yesterday.

The scheme will see uniformed community officers employed by the council and overseen by Dorset Police patrol the town centre during the day time, tackling issues such as street drinking and begging.

In turn this will aid the police so officers can focus on other priorities.

But the scheme could take as long as five years to come into practice, councillors heard.

Inspector Darren Stanton of Dorset Police, who attended the meeting, said: "Street drinking and begging forms a small part of the crimes reported that take up a large proportion of police time. This scheme will allow officers to focus on other high priority areas.

"It has been very effective in Boscombe over the past two years."

Insp Stanton explained that officers will gather all the evidence needed to prosecute people, will wear body cameras and will be given certain powers with the focus being on street drinking and begging.

Resident Ken Wakely told the meeting: "What the residents want to see is action. We've been talking about the issues in Melcombe Regis for the past 10 to 15 years, we know what they are. It's now time to see something done about it and see some action."

Committee chairman Cllr Jeff Cant raised concerns, arguing efforts should also focus on the night-time economy.

He said: "One of the main deterrents to our town and economy is the night time life and the level of disruption.

“I don’t think anyone is addressing this issue properly and I’m getting really frustrated.

“We need to be looking at the night time and not just the day time.

“Nobody wants to go out in the evening with shrieking teenagers throwing bottles and cursing each other. It is damaging our economy. It’s not helping people to run their businesses – restaurants for example.”

Cllr Christine James fully supported Cllr Cant's comments.

She said: “I never used to be worried about walking though the town at night. Now I don’t feel as safe as I should do. The complaints we have had are quite shocking.”

Council chief executive Matt Prosser said that although the scheme focuses on the day time economy it will have a “knock-on” effect on the night time economy and improve the image and feel of the overall town.

He said: “I think there is a balance between comments about the day time and the night time. The impact of making Weymouth more family-friendly during the day time will have an impact on the night time.”

Cllr James Farquharson said he “whole-heartedly” supported the scheme as he has seen first-hand the positive effect it has had in Boscombe.