Homes were evacuated after “suspicious substances” were found during an anti-terror raid.

Police officers raided the flat in Cheriton Gardens, Horwich , just before 10am yesterday.

Bomb disposal experts from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit were called to the scene with a robotic drone.

A 38-year-old man, who lived at the flat, was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images and information linked to terrorism The “substances” were being examined last night, although it is thought they will be deemed safe.

The man remained in police custody last night.

Supt Steve Nibloe said: “There is no indication anyone has been in any immediate danger. Residents left their homes voluntarily after officers spoke to them about substances that were found. This response is, and always was, a precautionary measure.

"There is nothing at this point to indicate that this man has any extremist allegiances or has acted with any other parties.”

The police probe began in October last year when they arrested the man in connection with an investigation into indecent images sent to local schools.

He was bailed and computer equipment was examined by the High Tech Crime Unit.

New evidence came to light, which led to him being arrested on suspicion of possession of indecent images and an offence under the Terrorism Act 2000, specifically possessing information likely to be useful for a person committing or preparing for acts of terrorism, and separate offences under the Explosives Act yesterday.

As well as the raid on the man’s home, police raided another address in Ormston Avenue, also in Horwich.

At about 2pm the scene was declared “safe” by police but they continued to investigate the substances found in the flat through out the day.

A fire crew and scientific support staff were also called in to identify the “unknown materials” found in the flat.

A team from Chester Troop 521 Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) Squadron attended the incident but declared it safe and left before 1pm.

Sandra Ikin, who was evacuated from her Cheriton Gardens home, said: “It was about 9.45am this morning when I looked through my kitchen window and saw the police knocking on the door and then they took him into the van.”

Danny Pimbley, another resident of Cheriton Gardens, said: “There were police and the bomb squad everywhere. I’ve lived here for years and never seen anything like this before.”

Residents were not able to return to their homes until 5.30pm A spokesman for Bolton At Home, which manages the properties in the area, said: “Our staff have been in the area to offer our support to local residents and we’ll continue to support the police with their investigations.”

Supt Nibloe added: “We are working with our colleagues at the fire brigade and Bolton Council to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum.”