Vandalism on three Oxford estates fell dramatically when activity schemes were put on for youngsters during the summer holidays.

In Blackbird Leys there was a fall of almost 60 per cent in incidents of criminal damage - from 44 in 2005 to 18 this year. Young people tried kayaking, sailing and street dancing as well as going on day trips to Alton Towers and Weymouth.

In Wood Farm, vandalism fell by 50 per cent, from 16 incidents to eight.

Activities on offer included sports such as football, rounders and cricket for eight- to 13-year-olds and two weeks of arts and crafts for 13- to 19-year-olds.

In Barton, vandalism fell from 11 incidents to 10. Young people on the estate had the chance to try activities ranging from karaoke to African drumming.

Despite a similar scheme in Rose Hill the estate bucked the trend, with incidents of vandalism more than doubling.

Wood Farm youth worker Simon Edmondson, who ran one of the schemes, said the figures showed it was important to give young people things to do during the holidays. He said: "Young people have got a lot of spare time on their hands and I think it's important they've got things to access, particularly in the summer holidays.

"Also having interaction with adults is really important because they spend the majority of their time with their peers."

Barton beat officer Pc Rob Fisher said the drop in incidents of criminal damage in the area followed a year on year drop of 23 per cent between 2004-05 and 2005-06. He added: "We're really pleased about the impact this holiday scheme has had - we actively support schemes like this."

Police were unable to comment on the reasons for the increase in problems in Rose Hill, but a report by the city council said attendance at the Rose Hill scheme was down on the previous year.

The report added: "We recognise that it has been a difficult year for Rose Hill, with the area suffering increased levels of challenging beh- aviour.

"On the whole, however, we are delighted with the results of this initiative.

"The number of young people accessing these schemes has been extremely high and feedback has been very positive.

"Funding to provide activities for young people during the holiday periods will continue and we hope to see further reductions in antisocial behaviour in the future."

Current funding for the four estate schemes runs at £90,000, but the budget for 2007 and 2008 is £120,000.