Convicts are being forced to make iron gates - to guard estates from burglars.
The innovative Staffordshire scheme is one of many praised by the Home Office today.
Officials highlighted the work of Crime and Disorder Partnerships, which involve police and councils, in fighting crime across the West Midlands.
Home Office Regional Director John Curtis said: "It is a great credit to their work that we have achieved significant reductions in recorded crime in this region."
He was speaking in the Summerfields area of Tipton, where a crime fighting team has been set up in response to a gradual increase in crime, disorder and anti- social behaviour.
He said: "The project we visited today in Sandwell is an example of what can be achieved when the police and the local community work together."
An innovative housing project in Chase, Stafford has reduced burglary by 65 per cent. The project gets offenders in prison to make wrought iron alley gates - which will eventually protect the estates they used to target.
Other examples of crime reduction projects include "Operation Safer Nights" in Wolverhampton.
This tackles alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour throughpatrols and close contact with bars.
One key aim is to make the public, especially young people aware of the dangers of excessive drinking through publicity campaigns. A night bus service has also been introduced.
In Coventry, a charitable scheme is providing free locks, bolts and door spyholes to people over 55.