GREATER Manchester's new Chief Constable interrupted a fact-finding tour of Bolton's troubled Crime areas - to visit the scene of an armed robbery.

Mr Michael Todd was on patrol when he heard over the radio an armed robbery had taken place in Farnworth.

Three masked raiders armed with handguns and sledgehammers threatened a Securicor driver outside Kwik Save in Longcauseway around 12.15pm.

They forced the driver to handover £6,000 before leaving in a stolen car, driven by a fourth man, which has still not been recovered. No one was injured.

Mr Todd and the head of Bolton Police, Chief Supt Don Brown, helped their officers in an initial investigation at the scene and reassured the public.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact Bolton CID on 0161 856 5640 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Earlier, Mr Todd toured Bolton's "red light" area and also the troubled town centre area, The Haulgh.

As he toured the areas the Chief Constable said: "We need to win these areas back for the people.

"People in The Haulgh obviously care greatly about their area, but it is being taken away from them by criminals, drug addicts and prostitution.

"We have got to work together to get the drug dealers out. It is about putting a complete package into the area."

Residents have demanded action since the body of 17-year-old vice girl Carly Batemen was found in an alleyway off Crawford Street a year ago this month.

Since then, money has been allocated for housing, police operations have been launched and a host of schemes have been introduced in a bid to boost the area's profile.

Residents groups have been formed and calls have been made for a public inquiry into the area's problems.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: "The Haulgh used to be a great place to live but it has gone rapidly downhill."

Mr Todd said: "We need positive policing and the support of the council and the residents.

"We need to say to residents that we will do everything in our power to get rid of crime, drugs and prostitution and it is only through working with local partnership agencies and residents that we can crack it."

Chief Supt Brown said: "The Haulgh is an area with strong community spirit and we want to harness that to solve the problems."