A CRIME meeting has been slammed as a wasted opportunity to discuss serious concerns with police.

Despite complaints over lack of police on Westhoughton's streets and rising crime among youths, a meeting to discuss crime was overrun with national politics, say the town's leaders.

Bolton West Sergeant Paul Blackburn and local MP Chris Green met with residents and and business owners on Tuesday night for a crime forum, but the meeting was met with criticism from Westhoughton mayor and Bolton councillor David Wilkinson.

After the discussion, Cllr Wilkinson said: "That was an hour of my life I'll never get back. We have not even touched on any of the policing issues in Westhoughton. Instead we were sidetracked by police numbers."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pledge to recruit 20,000 new police officers was the first topic raised at the meeting and Westhoughton residents were quick to voice their scepticism, asking how the new recruits would be trained without an expansion in training facilities which has not yet been announced as part of the plan.

Mr Green said: "There will always be challenges when recruitment is reduced and then we have to build it back up again."

Concerns over the police promise, largely directed at the MP, continued throughout the meeting. Another resident commented that the police could take so long to be trained that people would not see a difference on the ground for years to come, calling the scheme "a political ploy from our new lord and master".

Anti-social behaviour was one of the few crime issues discussed at the meeting.

One resident said: “There is a real shift in the atmosphere at Westhoughton Park after 3pm. Older children go down to meet up at the park and it goes from bad to worse. I have had to put out a fire in a bin, started by youths, using water bottles. They hurled abuse at me while I was doing it.”

Anti-social behaviour discussions quickly gave way to questions over Boris Johnson career. One resident said Prime Minister was 'racist' and Mr Green disagreed, instead calling Mr Johnson's past comments 'colourful'.

Mr Wilkinson added after the meeting: "The main problems in this town are basic policing because there are not enough officers on the street, care theft and anti-social behaviour. That's what we need to be talking about."