A POLICE chief has reassured residents that crime in their area is not as rife as social media would have them believe - but admitted not everything in the town was ‘rosy’.

Inspector Russell Magnall was talking at a meeting at St Andrew's Primary School, in Ramsbottom called to address residents’ fears over the level of crime in the area.

Taking his place on a panel including Bury North MP James Frith and Councillor Tamoor Tariq he said: “Social media is definitely not our friend at the moment. Social media has whipped this up into a frenzy.”

He told the gathering of about 50 residents that burglaries in Ramsbottom were down by half over – from 54 to 28 for the last 12 months, compared to the 12 months that preceded it.

He added: “The good news is response times to emergency calls are better now than they have ever been, despite challenging cuts and a lack of resources – it’ s the ‘after bit’ where we sometimes let ourselves down.”

However he conceded that vehicle crime was a different story, and that tradesmen in the area, tended to bear the brunt of it.There had been a ‘significant rise’ in reports of the offence, from 16 to 44.

Insp Magnall added: “Vehicle crime, on the other had is not so rosey. Specifically attacks on workers’ vans, the craftsmen in our community who have tools in their vans.

“They are the targets of these attacks, and that is not such a good news story.”

Inspector Magnall spoke about the new pressures on policing, both in terms of finances and resources and the nature of the job.

Telling residents he was trying to put the job of policing ‘into context’ he told of how domestic abuse, people with mental health problems, organised crime and terrorism all impacted on how the force deployed its resources.

And he added: “Due to the historic failings of the police to protect young people anything that affects vulnerable young people is high on my agenda.”

Insp Magnall said that these new demands may seem to be prioritised ‘to the detriment of traditional policing such as putting Bobbies on the beat'

"That’s the world we live in now. We have no choice about it; it’s a nationwide thing," he said.

"That's not making excuses, I wanted to put policing into context. These are the things that affect me day-to-day."

He explained how the force prioritises reports of crime on a criteria of vulnerability, harm, risk and threat.

But he stressed that burglaries in the area were something he would always treat with the utmost seriousness.

He said: “Let me be clear, while I'm in post as police inspector, the crimes we are talking about, particularly burglaries people come into people's homes will absolutely be up there as one of my priorities. And we will always treat it as a priority."

And to demonstrate his commitment to catching burglars, he told of how 11 targets identified after a spike of burglaries in summer 2016, the force had managed to lock up 10.

And the remaining thief had just been put into custody after being tracked down in Newcastle two weeks ago.

He declared it 'a good news story' but added: "What we are not good at is getting those good news stories out there to tell people what we are doing."

And he added: "At the end of the day I see my job as an old-school copper. The people who cause the most harm to our community —and I include burglars in that — my job is to catch them."

And James Frith MP said the community needed to work with the police to combat crime.

He said: "It's not their responsibility entirely. There was a moment in the search for Steven Dyson , where the clear, calm logic of our police force was brought home to me.

"The calculating rationale of where to put resources and how to engage with the public who wanted to come and do something. The training was prevalent in how Russ and his team engaged with us."

He continued: "The police and our community pulled together in some of the most impressive manner possible in the light of the tragic circumstances of New Year's Day and the disappearance of Steven Dyson.

"I want to put in to record my enduring support and pride for both the community and the leadership shown by our police."

And Cllr Tariq added: "My house has been burgled twice in three years, I know exactly how it feels for someone to root through your home and take your valuable possessions,my family was quite upset, as some of you may have been."

Cllr Tariq also told residents how he had been involved in improving the 'dreadful' response times of 101 service. But he said there was still plenty of room for improvement that would take some time to bring about.