PASSIONS ran high as residents confronted police and councillors on what is being done to tackle crime in Westhoughton.

People wanted to know what was being done and if more policing was on its way to the town.

Police heard about burglaries, robberies, assaults and drug use in Westhoughton and people were urged to work together and with police to try and tackle it.

Officers expressed their sympathies with people over the 101 service and also the lack of resources affecting how crimes are sometimes responded to.

Residents and councillors called for more officers for the town and more funding from central government so Westhoughton could be policed properly.

More than 100 people attended the meeting on Wednesday night at Westhoughton High School.

The meeting was attended by Westhoughton PCs Phil Burrows and Paul Griffiths and sergeant for the area Kevin Wright.

Addressing police staff levels in Westhoughton, Sgt Wright said: "We are constantly doing equations.

There is a neighbourhood team and there is a response team. We are doing equations to try and work out where the staff are needed.

"At the moment there is not a dedicated sergeant to Westhoughton and I know they want to put one in soon.

"There are still people policing Westhoughton. It is about using as much as possible the staff we do have."

The town used to have four officers and four PCSOs but now has two officers and three PCSOs.

Residents told the police that crime is 'rife' in the town and they believe that only 'proactive policing' is going to stop criminals.

People also demanded to know what police are going to do to protect the vulnerable members of the society.

Sgt Wright told the meeting that in the past 12 months there has been a 40 per cent increase inc rime in Westhoughton but most of this is down to a change in the way crime is recorded.

The lack of resources means officers now have less time to patrol as they are often tied up dealing with incidents.

PC Burrows said: "We only have a finite amount of resources. That decision is taken well about my pay grade to decide what resources are put where.

"We received information all the time from people tells us certain people are doing certain things. A lot of the time that is anonymous.

"I am your neighbourhood bobby. We don't have the time that we once did to just walk around and patrol. I can only apologise for that.

"I am on a 10 hour shift. I have been to a number of meetings and on different jobs.

"We have heard so many stories of people ringing 101. It is terrible."

Sgt Wright added that while sometimes people can't see police they are there, carrying out operations at night.

He said they are hoping to make better use of social media to spread good news stories in the future.

Sgt Wright also addressed issues social media create in terms of spreading fear and panic.

He said: "Social media is great but it can blow things way out of proportion as well.

"We have been a bit slow with social media. We do a lot of work and we don't tell you about it. It is a good place for us to tell you about it."

While issues at the local level were addressed, people also called for a meeting to be arranged that MP Chris Green could attend and a representative from Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham's office.

Councillors said they would now try and look into neighbourhood watch schemes in Westhoughton and a future meeting would be arranged.

Summing up the meeting, Westhoughton North and Chew councillor Martyn Cox, said: "I think there is two main themes out of tonight.

"What can we do locally as a council, as police and as a community to make our community safer, what can we practically do?

"The other theme is what can we do to encourage regional and national figures to help us."