A new report has labelled Chorley as a top crime area in England with anti-social behaviour the most pressing issue.
Figures from the Home Office show that Chorley is in the top two per cent of areas nationally for high crime levels, and there were 364 incidents in December last year.
The statistics, from crime maps on the police.uk website, also reveal that the Flat Iron car park area near Booths and Market Walk is the main hotspot for violent crime and shoplifting.
But police have condemned claims Chorley is a prime target, blaming the system for ‘misleading’ the public.
The level of crime is based on the number committed per 1,000 people in an area, but because there aren’t many people living near the Flat Iron car park and Market Street, police say the figures don’t give a clear picture.
Acting Chief Supt Graham Coulston-Herrmann said: “Suggesting that Chorley is in the top two per cent of crime areas is misleading, as the figures are based on crimes per 1,000 people, so there is bound to be a high crime ratio in low population areas like town centres.
“The outcome is similar in other town centres.
“Having said that, we are working hard to reduce crime in Chorley and I’m proud of the partnerships we have locally, which continue to work hard to drive down crime.”
Anti-social behaviour topped the list of problems in Chorley, with 171 cases in December.
The website has also been updated this week to show which supermarkets, parks and other landmarks attract the most crime.
The Flat Iron area was the scene of 11 incidents in December, including one for public disorder and weapons, and two ‘other’ thefts, which can include bicycle thefts or thefts from people.
The Co-Op on Moor Road and Asda on Brock Road both had four shoplifting cases that month.
Chorley and South Ribble Hospital had two violent crimes, one anti-social behaviour and one related to drugs, and Morrisons on Brooke Street had one anti-social behaviour, one ‘other’ theft and two ‘other’ crimes, which could include fraud or forgery.
Astley Park is also included in the data, which had one violent crime in December, while the parking area near the old tax office on Hollinshead Street; the parking area between Gillibrand Walks and Pall Mall; and the petrol station at Jackson Street, all had one crime each.
Chorley Council also wants to reassure the public that the town is no more dangerous than others, and said that crime levels are actually dropping.
Coun Eric Bell, who has responsibility for crime levels at the council, said: “The way these figures are calculated is misleading.
“Residents can be reassured that crime is continuing to fall in Chorley. In fact, the latest figures from December show a decrease of nearly two per cent in crime across the borough compared with last year.
“We will continue to work with police and other partners to drive down crime and anti-social behaviour to make sure Chorley remains a safe place to live, work and visit.”
In December 2010, there were 434 incidents listed on the police.uk database, compared to 364 in December 2011.