POLICING in Parks and Walcot must improve if residents are to feel safe in their communities.

That is the warning from councillors who say an increase in anti-social behaviour and burglary hasn’t been dealt with firmly enough.

Wiltshire Police are under pressure to make a limited budget stretch further than ever. It appears the public is beginning to notice the strain.

“I think it’s all down to money,” said Abdul Amin, councillor for Walcot and Park North. “We all know there have been huge cuts to police funding.

“The police clearly believe they are doing a good job and they will show you surveys that say that too. But that is not the message I am getting from residents.

“If you surveyed 200 homes in my ward you would see that probably 80 per cent of residents are not happy – they’re seeing an increase in crime and it’s having an impact on them.

“I fully appreciate the funding constraints, but the money that there is needs to be applied where it is most needed. Walcot and Park North is seeing an increase in crime and people are frightened.”

In recent weeks, some streets in the area have seen multiple break-ins within days of each other. Taxi drivers - who fear they are being particularly targeted - have reported being the victims of crime two or three times in the same week.

But Coun Amin says too often the police response has dented public confidence.

“When a resident is a victim of crime, it matters to them,” he said. “They want it to be dealt with - they don’t want to be told to find their own evidence or get hold of their own CCTV before the police will investigate. The residents know where the problem is - they tell me the police cuts are ridiculous - but they still need to see some action.”

Former councillor Peter Mallinson said issues with the system for reporting crime were damaging efforts to target repeat offenders.

Peter now runs the Walcot Community Shop. Like other retailers in the area, he was recently handed a police poster with the details of three wanted men.

He recently tried to report information about a known criminal but he found he was unable to contact local officers. He was put off using the 101 non-emergency line due to the 15p call charge.

Wiltshire Police have sought to reassure residents about their commitment to tackling crime in the area in light of the criticism.

A spokesman for the force said: “The Community Policing Team which covers the Walcot and Parks areas is working hard to provide a quality service to residents under increasing pressures.

“The model ensures that all CPT staff can be in the right place at the right time. It also gives us greater flexibility to ensure we are able to proactively target areas of crime or anti-social behaviour and work with partners to prevent crime within our community.

“We are committed to working with local businesses across Swindon and Wiltshire and since 2015, we have streamlined our CCTV procedures in order to increase our efficiency and as part of this, businesses with CCTV capability who may have been victims of shoplifting are encouraged to prepare relevant footage and submit it for officers to carry out enquiries.

“Regarding the 101 system, we are currently exploring a number of improvements, as well as exploring other ways of reporting crime. We are committed to reviewing and assessing where improvements are needed and are fully committed to delivering the best possible service.”