FEAR of crime is increasing among people living in Surrey Heath, according to a recently published survey.

Those voicing the biggest concern live on Camberley's Old Dean estate which is one of the town's top crime blackspots.

More than 50 per cent of those questioned said a major issue was feeling threatened by young people who were "hanging around".

A similar number admitted to feeling that it was unsafe to walk around the area after dark.

The estate was also bottom of the list for community spirit, with only three per cent of residents feeling they could always rely on help from others.

Almost half the Old Dean residents quizzed feel that they are "very" or "fairly" likely to experience a break-in in the future.

They are also resigned to having property stolen from their cars, or to having their vehicles stolen.

But the authors of the crime and disorder survey report - sponsored by Surrey Heath Council - say the residents' fear of crime exceeds actual experience.

Surrey had the third lowest crime rate of all 43 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland at the time the report was compiled.

And Surrey Heath ranks seventh out of the county's 11 boroughs for crime levels, with 4970 crimes reported during the period under review.

The report, which covers 2001-02, says: "People appear to be generally under-informed about crime and crime prevention, and there would seem to be an opportunity for greater communication with the public."

In particular it urges more imaginative ways of getting across the message of the borough's success in reducing certain types of crime and disorder.