POLICE have been accused of failing the public by a member of the force's own watchdog.

Councillor Michael Walls, a member of West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel, spoke out after a HM Inspectorate of Constabulary report published yesterday strongly criticised the way the force investigated some crimes.

Cllr Walls said panel members had discussed some of the issues with the HMIC inspector who compiled the report, Roger Baker, at an informal meeting last year.

Some of the matters raised included the use of PCSOs who are not trained or intended to investigate crime; victims being contacted over the phone and asked to do their own crime scene visit; and many reports being written off with no investigation taking place.

The HMIC report states: "During the inspection, HMIC reviewed a number of crime investigations, including reports of crimes that were not attended.

"In certain cases, for crimes such as burglary dwellings, there was clear evidence of investigation and supervision.

"However, for other offences, such as theft from a motor vehicle, many of which were not attended, some cases were found to have little evidence of meaningful investigation or supervision."

Cllr Walls (Con, Queensbury) , a former policeman, said yesterday: "Police refuse to act on so many crimes.

"I investigated a complaint from one of my residents that a PCSO had stood by and watched while a neighbour from hell smashed to pieces a brand new fence and police said it was a civil matter, I complained to the police on their behalf and they were talked out of making a complaint.

"Thefts of huge amounts of money from debit and credit cards are never recorded as crimes, so thousands of crimes and billions of pounds never appear in crime stats.

"Most people do not report crimes, vehicles broken into and damaged are rarely reported as insurance excesses are so high people can not claim and in any case insurance companies don't even ask for a crime number any more.

"I have said for years, if the crime figures were multiplied four times, it may be approaching the true numbers.

"I have had personal experience of a number of crimes where the police failed badly. People tell me that their car has been broken into but they say there is no point in reporting it. Nobody bothers."

Cllr Walls added: "We want to know how the Police and Crime Commissioner is going to deal with this. He is outlining his policing plan for the next year at a panel meeting next week, and I will be asking some tough questions."

Councillor Imran Hussain, Bradford Council deputy leader and fellow member of the Police and Crime Panel, said: "I find it deeply disturbing that this may be happening because I believe that all crime needs to be taken seriously and I have made this view clear at previous meetings of the Police and Crime Panel.

"Criminals often graduate from the sort of lower level crimes referred to by the HMIC on to more serious acquisitive crimes and burglaries so unless we take early action to identify the perpetrators, bring them to justice and rehabilitate them, then we face much bigger social and financial costs later on.

"I will be seeking assurances that West Yorkshire Police will take all crime seriously, encourage people to report it and work with communities to reduce crime and offending."

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson said he would be seeking assurances from the Chief Constable about the concerns highlighted in the HMIC report as well as asking what was being done to ensure officers are preventing crime rather than just reacting to it.

"We need to ensure we are doing all we can with the resources we have to maintain public confidence in policing," he said.

“Where the police gets it wrong we will try to put things right and I would urge anyone to contact my office where there are instances in West Yorkshire such as those highlighted in the report.”

Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin, the commander of Bradford District Police, said: "We would welcome the opportunity to discuss Cllr Walls' concerns with him further, to help us to continue to improve our service to the communities of Bradford District."