THE proportion of 15 to 24-year-olds injecting themselves or taking crack cocaine is higher in Bolton than anywhere else in Greater Manchester, according to latest figures.

Statistics released by Public Health England for 2011-12 also showed Bolton to be the second highest borough in Greater Manchester for crack, injection or opiate misuse.

Bolton also had the largest proportion of 25 to 34-year-olds taking the drugs or injecting themselves, along with Tameside.

Despite this, Bolton recorded vast improvements on the figures for 2010-11, with the number of users dropping by nearly 30 per cent for crack cocaine, 31.5 per cent for injecting and six per cent for opiate.

A 6.5 per cent fall in the number of opiate and crack users was recorded nationally.

A Bolton Council spokesman hailed the “significant” progress made but admitted there was “work still to be done”.

Bolton had an estimated 763 users injecting in 2011-12, equating to 4.22 per thousand people, which is the joint highest in the region, and significantly higher than neighbouring Bury’s 311 users.

Opiate users numbered 1,875 in Bolton, dwarfing Bury’s total of 765, at a rate of 10.36 per thousand, just behind Manchester’s proportion of 11.65.

Bolton fared better in terms of crack use, rating fifth out of the ten boroughs, behind Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside.

A council spokesman said: “We have made significant progress in reducing the number of opiate and cocaine users in the borough and we continue to tackle the issue via a number of methods.

“Getting users into specialist treatment services is our priority, as this is the proven route to recovery, along with ensuring they successfully complete that treatment.

“Substance misuse affects all ages and backgrounds.”

Rosanna O’Connor, director of alcohol and drugs at Public Health England, said: “There is no room for complacency, and alongside this encouraging evidence we remain vigilant to the major substance misuse challenges, such as reaching an ageing population of entrenched opiate users and protecting younger people.”