Silsden residents want community policing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a police chief was told at a public meeting last Thursday night.

Fed-up business people, councillors and residents say it is "unacceptable" that their council tax is being used to fund policing in other areas of the district, such as Keighley and Bradford, when they are not receiving adequate resources in their own town.

Councillors pleaded with Chief Superintendent Graham Sunderland, from Keighley division, to put a "bobby" in Silsden, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Coun Chris Atkinson said: "Elderly people are locking themselves in their houses on a night terrified by the fear of crime.

"That is very, very sad. It hurts me to have to see this.

"We shouldn't have elderly people who have paid for police all of their lives, and are still paying for it, barricading themselves in at night."

During the meeting, Chief Supt Sunderland said he was committed to putting more resources into the town and reducing the fear of crime, but he needed the help of the community.

He added: "Ninety-seven per cent of the population are law-abiding individuals who want a high quality of life.

"Policing is not just the responsibility of the police, it is every body's responsibility. We need to use that 97 per cent as resources to combat the criminal activities.

"You hear reports of gangs of youngsters, gangs of criminals but they only make up three per cent. The 97 per cent is one much bigger gang and I intend to use that 97 per cent to drive out that three per cent and make that three per cent socially unacceptable."

He added that recent high level crimes, such as the Bradford riots, and murders in Keighley, had meant resources from Keighley division had been concentrated on these areas.

The amount of policing depended on the amount of reported crime, he added.

John Lohan, of local firm Aire Valley Insurance, responded: "Are you saying the businesses of Silsden are expected to subsidise the bad behaviour of people in Bradford to the point where we don't get any increase in policing ourselves?

"The funding is coming from the Silsden ratepayers and I would like to see how much of those resources can be put back in our community."

Chief Supt Sunderland promised to support the town's bid for closed circuit television, and a proposal to follow Haworth's example of setting up a voluntary-manned police station.

He added that problem orientated police (POP) officers would soon carry mobile phones, to make reporting crimes more efficient. In addition, 190 extra officers were being recruited, but this was to cover the whole of West Yorkshire.

Residents and businesses say the measures are not enough.

Shop owners cited instances of crime in which they "feared for their lives" when doors had been broken, premises robbed and windows smashed.

One shop had been attacked so frequently the owner said she no longer contacted the police, and was moving from the town.

Another shop owner, who did not wish to be named, said: "The bottom line is the people who are doing these crimes, whether adults or kids, are getting away with it and know they are getting away with it."

He added that sooner or later, a law-abiding citizen would take the law into their own hands, and end up in trouble themselves.

Coun Alan Edwards summed up the debate: "The confidence in Silsden in the police is at rock bottom. Admittedly, a lot of it is not major crime but it's enough to spoil people's quality of life."

The town council is now to look at finding volunteers to see if a community-manned police office would be viable, and the bid for CCTV cameras in the town is a continuing project.

The police will be visiting Wesley Place car park on Tuesday to distribute crime prevention advice and leaflets as part of the Partners Against Crime Initiative.