FEAR of crime among Cheshire residents has dropped by 10% over the past decade, new research has revealed.
Almost 40% of residents questioned by Cheshire County Council's research and intelligence unit said they were "not at all worried" about being a victim of crime, compared with 29% in 1995.
But Cheshire's third Quality of Life Survey shows that the fear of crime among its communities still greatly outweighs actual experience of it.
More than 1,500 Cheshire people, including 205 teenagers, were interviewed as part of the survey aimed at recording the
perceptions of people and their priorities for changing the quality of life.
While 41% of residents named the reduction of crime and disorder as their top priority for improving the quality of life and more than half (54%) were worried about the threat of burglary, just 16% had ever been burgled in their neighbourhood.
County councillor Nora Dolphin, executive member for community, welcomed the drop in numbers of those who feared crime.
"We have been aware for some time that perception and reality can be very different when it comes to fear of crime.
"I'm delighted that the 'fear' element has reduced year on year. "It is encouraging news, particularly when coupled with figures showing that 92% liked living in their home area and 94% felt they enjoyed a good quality of life in Cheshire.
"The creation of safer and stronger communities is one of the primary objectives of Cheshire County Council's corporate plan and we will continue to work in partnership with the police and other organisations to achieve this aim."
Cheshire's Chief Constable Peter Fahy also welcomed the survey's findings.
He said: "Crime is much lower today than 10 years ago, so people really are safer.
"The work our local police officers are doing with the county council, the districts and the parish councils, to tackle neighbourhood issues before they escalate into crime is making a big difference. It has helped to make people feel safer and improved the quality of life in Cheshire."
While more than 61,100 crimes were reported to give an overall crime rate of 90
per thousand of population, the figure reflected favourably against 121 for the North West region and 113 for England and Wales.
Just 5% had personal experience of personal assault or mugging but 45% said they were "worried" and 15% were "very worried".
Major concerns were over: speedings cars (50%); drunken behaviour (43%); rowdy youths (40%).
Increasing numbers of young people (50% compared with 40% five years ago) felt drugs were "easy to get in their area" while young people were pessimistic about their image among adults with 61% saying adults saw them as "bad".