POLICE have stepped up patrols in an area residents claim is blighted by prostitution.

The issue of sex workers operating in Great Lever was raised at a meeting of the area forum last week.

Residents in the Fletcher Street area told of what they believed to be teenage girls screaming and being attacked by clients.

They claimed that land behind their homes was littered with used condoms.

Police have now responded with an increased presence in the area, but have disputed some of the residents’ claims.

Ch Insp Tom Martin said: “We take every report of prostitution very seriously. Local people who came to the recent public meeting raised concerns.

“In response, we have increased patrols in the area, and we would always encourage anyone who has concerns to raise them with these officers.

“We have been working closely with partner agencies to address the issue of prostitution, using dedicated overt and covert policing tactics to resolve it.”

Insp Martin also said that while ‘one instance of prostitution is one too many’, Great Lever was not a particular blackspot in terms of the level of activity taking place.

And while he invited members of the public to come forward with any evidence they had, he said there was ‘no intelligence’ to corroborate suggestions teenage girls were working as prostitutes or being physically assaulted.

A neighbour, who lives in Fletcher Street, had raised concerns about young girls being attacked at the meeting, and said she sticks by her comments.

She said: “You hear them screaming at times, things at them like ‘you owe me £5’, and you hear them go down to the ground when the punters have finished with them. It’s a damn shame.

“They are not women’s voices, they are young kids, you can tell the difference.”

Police are working with Bolton Council to clean up the area following the complaints of used condoms around the Fletcher Street area.

A council spokesman said: “Reducing prostitution and kerb crawling is a priority for Bolton Council and its partners. On-street sex workers have reduced significantly thanks to the joint partnership between Greater Manchester Police, Bolton Council and Urban Outreach.

“We would urge residents to report any activity to the police to enable targeted enforcement action.”

Anyone with information about prostitution in Bolton should contact police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0888 555 111.