“I HAVE never seen anything like it in my life” – these are the words of one woman who says she has been trapped in her home by gangs of vandals.

The 64-year-old who lives in Lenham Gardens, Darcy Lever, suffers from a condition which means she is confined to a wheelchair, she says she has been repeatedly threatened by groups of as many as 30 young people who gather outside her home.

The woman asked to remain anonymous out of fear of the vandals who she said regularly abuse residents, throw glass bottles and are often spotted taking drugs.

“They’re evil and nasty,” she said. “When they’re not at school they come round every day. They smoke drugs, they shout, and they scream at us.

“If you say anything to them you get threatened. I’m in an electric wheelchair so I can’t always go out to speak to them.

“I can’t go on the pavement because of the glass damaging my wheelchair. If I’m sat outside my front door in the chair I have to go inside when they come around.

“I have never seen anything like this in all my life.”

She is not the first resident to have raised concerns about aggressive and anti-social behaviour in recent weeks after a group of pensioners living in Presto Gardens, Daubhill, voiced similar worries.

The group, including one man in his 70s and a 69-year-old woman say they have been the victims of repeated criminal damage, including one group of vandals who smashed the windows of bungalows on the normally quiet residential street before ripping out flowers and pulling drainpipes out of the wall.

“It’s terrible round here with some of these lads and girls,” one woman said.

“I’m just getting fed up with it. While you are watching television they are outside stealing your pipes.”

This Is Lancashire:

Police have followed up on the incidents by increasing patrols in the areas affected in an effort to combat the issues.

But officers say they are now making new inroads into anti-social behaviour after a recent neighbourhood policing shift allowed officers to be more proactive.

The change, reported by The Bolton News, has seen Greater Manchester Police reintroduce dedicated neighbourhood inspectors who work as a consistent point of contact for people.

In addition, 10 new officers started work, joining teams across the borough.

Inspector Nicola Williams heads up the Bolton North neighbourhood team and says this shift towards local policing has allowed her team to pinpoint anti-social hotspots and “flood” particular areas with lots of officers.

She explained that officers are looking towards “evidence-based policing” which uses reports from the public to pinpoint particular problem areas.

“In order to tackle anti-social behaviour we needed a patrol plan which gives us information so that we can flood localities where problems are common,” she said.

“In quite a few places we have just got this up and running. We’ve had positive feedback from local people and our research suggests that that presence stops anti-social behaviour.”

This Is Lancashire:

These problems can include drug dealing, low level criminal damage, public order offences and the use of off-road motorbikes.

Insp Williams explained that, by bringing officers together to target a specific site, police had found it easier to break up anti-social groups.

She said: “Previously, we had a couple of PCSOs patrolling their own area and going up to speak to a group of people. But now we have a few PCSOs with police officers driving to these localities and going as a group.”

However, this new model of policing relies heavily on officers receiving information from the public, either through phone calls or reports to GMP’s website.

“This is why it’s so important that people come to us with information,” Insp Williams said.

“If they are reporting general anti-social behaviour they are not going to get emergency response officers turning up to deal with it.

“I think people believe police are not going to come because they are strapped — and we are — but that information goes through to people like me and we use it to deal with these problems.”

This Is Lancashire:

Anyone who is dealing with these issues is advised to keep a record of incidents, including times and dates, in order to provide information to the authorities.

Suzanne Hilton, CEO of Age UK Bolton, says it is “absolutely vital” that older people feel they can leave their homes and stay active.

She pointed to “inter-generational projects” which would involve older and younger groups of people interacting with each other.

“It’s an awful thought that people can become a prisoner in their own home,” she said.

“A lot of the time older people and younger people don’t know each other and projects which bring these people together can be helpful.

“Older people have stereotypes of younger people and younger people have stereotypes of older people but we can change that by bringing them together.”