THE ‘lack of response’ from the 101 service is preventing elderly and vulnerable residents from reporting burglaries, a meeting was told.

Residents who attended the Shafton Parish Council meeting on Tuesday spoke of their disappointment at the length of time they are left on hold when contacting 101, and the ‘true’ number of burglaries that are occurring in the area is still high, despite police insisting the numbers have dropped.

Official figures relayed to the public by police in August stated that 25 incidents had occurred between April and July, and during Monday’s meeting, Sgt Richard Wilson said that between August 1 and September 31, two incidents had been reported.

He said: “The has been a steady trend of burglaries and it stood at around six per month. Two people have since been arrested and charged with two offences and following their arrest, we only two offences have been reported.

“It is unknown if the drop in these incidents are attributed to these two people and two burglaries is still two too many, but thankfully these incidents have dropped considerably.”

The latest figures revealed by police were disputed by parish councillor Les Holt, who said that the 101 system was preventing elderly and vulnerable residents reporting crime and the lack of PSCOs was a ‘total disgrace’.

“PSCOs are the eyes and ears of our village. People give up waiting to speak to a 101 operator because they are left on hold for 30 minutes, sometimes even longer,” said Les,

“There are a lot of frightened, elderly and vulnerable people in our village who can’t report crime. They trust PCSOs and waiting 30 minutes to speak to a 101 operator after they have been a victim of crime is unacceptable.”

One resident spoke during the heated debate and said that he had been waiting two months to hear from the police following a burglary at his home, and another resident said that when his livestock was allegedly shot at, he waited 50 minutes before his call was answered and after he complained via the South Yorkshire Police website, he was visited by a constable.

He described the service as a ‘disgrace’.

Sgt Richard Wilson said: “We understand that there are issues with the 101 system but it is a national service which we are not going to do away with.

"PCSOs do not have the facility to create a crime report or record. We are trying to push reporting online as the system is more streamlined but we appreciate that it does lend better to the younger generation but that does not mean you shouldn’t report crime.

“We want to work with the community and and we want the same thing as you, for there to be zero crime. If you are reluctant to report we can’t see what is happening and it makes us think that crime is not bad.

“I need accurate stats so when I bid for more policing I have something to show. I am holding out a begging bowl here when I say that we do rely on you (the community) for information and things will go under the radar if we don’t know.

“Following the spate of burglaries in recent months we have been revisiting the areas that have been affected in a system we call cocooning. In addition this we have also been offering crime prevention advice.

“The 101 system is a recurring theme with issues but there are no plans to get rid of it.”