IF you are a victim of crime you are entitled to help and support from the police.

But what can victims really expect from the criminal justice system? The Government has drawn up a code of practice for victims of crime which lays down the minimum level of service they can expect.

It includes a written acknowledgement of the report, a clear explanation of what to expect and an explanation, within five working days, of a decision not to investigate a crime.

According to figures obtained by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme nearly half of all crimes reported to West Yorkshire Police do not qualify for investigation after initial screening. That’s more than 120,000 crime reports.

We have sympathy for West Yorkshire’s plight. It has to juggle shrinking budgets and staff cuts with a massive increase in reported crime up from 152,790 in 2014 to 259,827 last year.

Of course, we don’t know how many of these ‘crimes’ was nothing of the sort. Police have no business adjudicating in neighbour disputes or pursuing cases where victims are unwilling to testify. Is it a good use of scarce resources to investigate a crime where the witness will not support a prosecution? Similarly, should the police waste time and effort on a relatively minor theft?

The first duty of any Government is to keep people safe.

Effective policing costs money. It seems as though a decade of austerity has hollowed out our police forces to such an extent that they can only afford to pursue major crimes and minor offences guaranteed to get a result.