BRAZEN drug dealing in Smithills has reached "epidemic proportions", angry residents say.

The issue was revealed as the most urgent concern of Smithills residents at a special meeting called to address crime in the area.

One householder told the meeting that it would not be too long before Smithills became a no-go area because of drug dealing and drug taking.

Mrs Janet Crawford said she was now too scared to walk near Doffcocker Lodge — a favourite ‘druggies’’ site.

She said: “I have lived here for 21 years and the situation has become worse and worse. It has now reached epidemic proportions.

“It’s not just the case that drug dealers are trading in dark alleyways at night. They blatantly do it on sunny afternoons in front of playing children.

“It’s a serious worry and it’s going to escalate if nothing is done.”

Mrs Crawford said when she had spoken to the drug dealers and users they just laughed in her face.

“What’s happening is the police are doing crisis intervention rather than taking preventative action,” she added.

The meeting at Triangle Community Methodist Church was called by Bolton West MP Chris Green after worried residents contacted him about their fears of rising crime in their neighbourhood.

Mr Green said: “I organised this crime meeting and invited the sergeant responsible for the Smithills ward to attend.”

Sgt Paul Blackburn and around 40 residents attended the meeting.

Another resident drew attention to the unwelcome side-effects of the drugs problem.

He said: “There has been a rise in petty theft and burglaries of vehicles in the area and I think this is because the offenders are trying to fund their habit.

“I don’t want it on my doorstep and if the police don’t get a grip soon, then the people that live here will end up taking action themselves.”

One young mother said: “What am I supposed to tell my children when they ask about why someone gets out of a taxi and goes to a parked vehicle to make an exchange?”

Mr Green said: “It seems like this is becoming normal behaviour and we can’t have this type of behaviour being regarded as normal.”

Sgt Blackburn said he appreciated the residents' frustrations and revealed that the police were planning pro-active action.

Besides the dangers of drugs, householders complained about the pollution caused by piles of laughing gas canisters and dumped takeaways left behind by the dealers and users.