Street cleaners and window fitters should be used to help combat localised crime and build a better picture of the problem, a report suggests.
New figures show 60% of people believe crime is rising, despite the statistics falling over the past 11 years.
The Audit Commission said current methods of measuring crime may not be accurately reflecting what occurs in local neighbourhoods.
It said using frontline street workers would not burden them or the police.
But it said only workers who were employed by a council, or working on behalf of it, should be asked to help with crime prevention.
The Audit Commission studied two different wards in Bradford, West Yorkshire; Kerrier in Cornwall; Liverpool; Rhondda Cynon Taff near Cardiff; and Thanet in Kent.