CREWE'S back alleys are to be sealed off in a bid to protect families terrorised by yobs and thieves.
It is hoped security gates will deter burglars and rid back alleys of drunken gangs who vandalise homes.
Only residents will have keys to the 6ft-tall welded mesh gates, designed without footholds to be climb-proof.
Pioneered in crime-ridden areas of Liverpool, the 'lock-out' scheme had a remarkable impact on public order.
Police and community groups have welcomed a decision from the borough council to pump £15,000 into a Crewe scheme.
PC Mark Cotton, the borough's crime reduction adviser, said: 'Where you have narrow runs behind rows of terraces, alley gates are proven to cut down on back-entry burglaries and also stop undesirables congregating to drink, take drugs and generally cause trouble.
'But gating also gives children safe places to play and allows residents to create their own communal areas.
'A total of 15 gates have already been placed in the West End, where the vast majority of residents say they have led to improvements.'
McNeill Street resident Andy Blackwell, 54, said: 'Our Neighbourhood Forum has waited a long time for this. We have suffered all sorts, from fires and fly-tipping to youths tearing up and down on motorbikes.
'No-one wants to turn the area into a fortress but in the current climate we are forced to take such steps.'
The alley behind Mr Blackwell's home is one of 16 due to be gated by the end of the month.
A further 30 gates will be installed if borough funding is matched by the Government via the Safer Communities Partnership and the Driving Crewe Forward initiative.
Once the scheme is rolled out it could benefit thousands of householders in the town's wealth of terraced streets.
David Burns, Crewe and Nantwich Safer Communities manager, said: 'Gating of an area under existing legislation has to be based on crime statistics. The right of way must be shown to be contributing to the crime problem.'