BOSCOMBE'S celebrated Tardis has been heavily daubed in graffiti – leaving residents asking if the police box is little more than a "white elephant".

The box, which was unveiled in April 2014, has attracted vandals on a number of occasions in recent years, despite the fact that it is overlooked by CCTV cameras.

It was initially installed in the precinct in order to deter criminals. On the day of its official launch, police bosses said they would aim to have a member of staff there "as much as is operationally possible during the trading hours in the precinct".

However, five years on, police are rarely seen at the site.

One resident said: "It was an absolute waste of money. Business owners contributed a lot of money to getting that up and running, and a few years on it all seems to have been wasted.

"Police are never there. It's just a white elephant."

Councillor Andy Jones, who represents Boscombe East and Pokesdown, said the Tardis was initially "quite useful".

"The trouble is, it's just been too difficult to sustain that level of manpower," he said.

"We have meetings with police on a regular basis, which are extremely useful, and it gives us a chance to feedback residents' concerns to senior officers."

Residents question the usefulness of the Tardis, he said.

"It was a great idea, but I can't see it being utilised to its full potential, unless something dramatic changes in terms of police resources," he said.

"It's a very difficult situation for the police."

A spokesperson from Dorset Police said they received a report that the Tardis and other areas nearby had been targeted by a graffiti vandal just before 10.30am on Tuesday, July 25.

"Enquiries into the incident are ongoing. No arrests have been made," the spokesperson said.

"There are two Community Safety Accredited Scheme (CSAS) officers designated to patrolling the precinct area, along with two police constables from the local neighbourhood policing team who are responsible for the area.

"Due to demand and resources the staff are no longer permanently situated at the police box itself."