Crime has fallen by two per cent in the West Midlands over the past year, resulting in almost 6,000 fewer victims.

But violent crime was up by 2.6 per cent and the number of fines for disorder shot up by almost a third.

Police said this was a result of a large increase in public order offences linked to alcohol.

As a result, they have launched a major crackdown on binge drinking and low-level violence in a bid to prevent more serious violence before it begins.

The campaign, called Operation Safer Nights, has involved officers in many areas adopting a "zero tolerance" approach to night-time disorder.

They have used a new power introduced three years ago allowing officers to to impose £80 fixed penalty fines for disorder, without a court case.

The number of fixed penalty tickets for disorder issued from West Midlands Police shot up from 2,481 in 2004-5 to 3,254 in 2005/06.

Chief Constable Paul Scott-Lee said: "Reducing crime is a vital part of what we do but just as importantly it's crucial that members of the public start feeling that crime is falling and begin to feel safer.

"Encouragingly, we are beginning to see just that. For example, the proportion of people who say they feel safer during the day in the area where they live has risen to almost 94 per cent.

"The roll-out of neighbour-hood policing, bringing officers closer to the communities they serve, is also starting to pay real dividends. Satisfaction with the police has risen from 64 per cent to just under 77 per cent."