CONCERNED residents say Wiltshire Police risk losing public confidence after it was revealed that nearly one quarter of all crime reported to the force is not investigated beyond a desktop study or a phone call.

Information revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show that for 2011/12, out of the 36,245 offences of all types reported to emergency call handlers, 8,181 were listed as “not investigated” after an initial assessment.

The data shows that 42 per cent of cases of theft and handling of stolen goods were placed into this category, along with 34 per cent of criminal damage incidents and 21 per cent of burglaries.

However, the force investigated nearly all reports of sexual offences and violence.

In a statement accompanying the figures, Wiltshire Police said: “Every crime report that is received involves some form of investigation.

“This can be an initial desktop/telephone investigation and, failing any tangible lines of inquiry, this may be closed as undetected.

“If there are suitable lines to follow then this will be screened to another investigative department.”

But residents said the decision not to investigate risked reducing public confidence in police and deterred victims and witnesses from taking the time and effort to report future incidents.

Gerry Przybyszewski, 73, of Poulton Street, Gorse Hill, who is involved with Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch, said: “They should investigate, come out and ask for witnesses.

“If there’s no proof there’s nothing they can do but if people bring forward witnesses and a statement, how can they drop the case?

“Respond to the public, because if you don’t respond to the public, the public lose faith in you.”

Maurice Small, 70, who is also involved in the Neighbourhood Watch, said people had lost confidence in the police because fewer officers kept residents informed about progress with complaints or issues.

He said call handlers should go back to victims if their complaints are not being investigated and explain the reasons.

He said: “If they ring 999 and nothing gets done they aren’t going to bother any more.”

Robert Buckland, the South Swindon MP, who is also a lawyer, said some reports were spurious or gave no leads, but the new police commissioner should try to find new ways of dealing with complaints to see whether more could be done to improve responses.