A focus on national performance priorities has caused police resources to be diverted away from dealing with antisocial behaviour, a study said yesterday.
Efforts to improve crime and detection rates have seen more visible elements of policing sacrificed, research by the Economic and Social Research Council found.
Dr Paul Collier, of the Aston Business School in Birmingham, who led the study, said that could help to explain why crime levels were generally falling but fear among the public was not.
He said: "The traditional response by police officers to calls from the public has been reduced in order to invest in proactive units to fight crime and engage in problem-solving activity, some of which is in relation to anti- social behaviour.
"These are likely to have important and longer-lasting effects, but the reduced visibility of police appears to have hit public confidence, despite the success experienced in reducing crime."
Dr Collier claimed the National Intelligence Model, which provides information about crime patterns and can be used by senior officers to make tactical resourcing decisions, had contributed to the problem.
Police performance had improved but resources had been moved away from more visible policing, he said.