POLICE who patrol an Oxford estate have been given their force’s highest award.

Members of the Barton, Risinghurst and Sandhills neighbourhood team were handed the Shrievalty Merit Award for their efforts in tackling anti-social behaviour, drug-dealing and speeding vehicles.

Last night one community leader said officers were doing a “fantastic job”.

Sergeant Jim Homes, who heads the team, said he was “delighted” with the accolade, which is given out by the Thames Valley’s three high sheriffs.

He said: “It was brilliant to receive the award at the ceremony.

“It is a massive boost for the team that all the hard work has been recognised at the highest level.

“We were delighted to be nominated, so to win was a brilliant achievement for us.”

The awards ceremony took place at County Hall, Oxford, on Friday and was conducted by the three high sheriffs, including Oxfordshire’s Marie-Jane Barnett.

The award citation said: “The Barton neighbourhood policing team has achieved significant successes in dealing with issues of the greatest concern to their local communities.

“The team has been extremely active in gathering intelligence, targeting offenders and taking appropriate measures to address local priorities.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton said the team richly deserved the award She said: “The team is an excellent example of local neighbourhood policing teams working closely with the community to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.

“The officers and PCSOs have built good relationships with local people who think that they have really made a difference to how safe people feel in the area.”

Latest figures show the estate is Oxford’s fifth most crime-ridden neighbourhood.

There were 76 incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour, almost 20 incidents per 1,000 people.

Sue Holden, secretary of Barton Community Association, praised the team’s work on the estate.

She said: “I think its wonderful that the team has been recognised.

“It works closely with a lot of organisations here and has achieved some fantastic results in Barton.

“The award is fully deserved and I am really chuffed for them.”

The forcewide major crime review team and Slough priority crime team were also recognised because of the “extremely high” standard of entries.

Created in 1981 by the three High Sheriffs of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the award is the most prestigious to be presented within the force.

They can be awarded to any member of staff, including police officers, Police Community Support Officers (Pcsos) and back office staff.