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COMMUNITY groups who want to fight crime, help vulnerable people and disrupt organised gangs can apply for a funding pot created from cash seized from criminals.

Chief constable Francis Habgood and police and crime commissioner Anthony Stansfeld have opened a new grant round of the Police Property Act Fund.

The fund is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, including cash made illegally by criminals.

Last year more than £140,000 was distributed to 40 different organisations across Thames Valley to reduce re-offending and prevent cybercrime.

This year the commissioner and chief constable expect to allocate about £100,000 in grants and have urged organisations in Oxfordshire to apply.

Mr Stansfeld said it was 'crucial' the police worked in partnership with volunteer and community groups in the county.

He added: "The local voluntary and community sector play an important part in our partnership work and there are many organisations that can offer a valuable contribution towards helping improve community safety.

"The Police Property Act Fund is a good opportunity to recognise this contribution and assist these organisations in continuing to make a positive change within our communities.

"In the past we have seen some truly brilliant successes as a result of this fund and I hope we will see many more from this round of funding."

Applications are invited from groups who can contribute towards a key aim in the PCC’s police and crime plan priorities, which are helping vulnerable people, preventing crime, reducing re-offending and tackling serious organised crime and terrorism.

Last year, Oxfordshire recipients included motor skills training charity Trax, which was awarded £4,000, and Oxford Against Cutting, an organisation working to stop female genital mutilation, received £2,000.

Some examples of projects that may be considered include those that prevent ‘peer on peer abuse’, rehabilitate offenders, prevent exploitation or tackle abuse against elderly people.

All applications will be required to show clear evidence of how a project or activity already contributes towards achieving the priorities of the PCC.

The closing date of applications is 5pm on Thursday, September, 21, and applications will be considered jointly by both Mr Stansfeld and Mr Habgood.

Mr Habgood added: "I know that relatively small amounts of money can really help groups in the local and voluntary sector make a real difference.

"We have seen many examples of this in previous years and I would encourage people to apply if they meet the criteria for this year.

"Some of the money that we will be allocating has been seized from criminals. It is great to think that it is now being diverted to good causes across the Thames Valley."

More information and the application form can be found at thamesvalley-pcc.gov.uk