Barry M. Goldwater, the senior senator from Arizona and sometime resident of Washington, said yesterday the streets here are still so thick with criminals that he gets a police escort when he goes to the Capitol at night.

Invoking the "crime in the streets" rhetoric of a decade ago, Goldwater said on the Phil Donahue Show (WDVM-TV, Channel 9), "I don't go out at night in Washington by myself. If I have to go to work, I call the cops and say, 'Hey, take me to work.'"

The police, however, say they're not in the senatorial escort business.

Asked what the senator meant by his comments, Bessie Watson, press spokeswoman for the Arizona Republican, told The Washington Post, "He was referring to a situation where, if the Senate calls him back on official business at night, the [Senate] sergeant-at-arms is responsible for getting him there, for providing the transportation."

The sergeant-at-arms, in turn, Watson said, dispatches Capitol police squad cars to pick up the senator, or any other member of Congress needing the service. "That's my understanding of it."

But officials at both the Capitol Police and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Nordy Hoffmann's office said yesterday they do nothing of the sort.

"I can't recall anything like that," said Police Lt. Michael Boyle. "To my knowledge, he [Goldwater] hasn't done something like that."

Besides, Boyle said, the Capitol Police could not provide transportation for the 435 representatives and 100 senators in Congress, even if it had to.

"We have just a handful of police cars," he said . . . I don't believe we'd have the capability."

A spokeswoman for Sergeant-at-Arms Hoffman said her office has no responsibility to provide transportation for senators coming to the Capitol on official business.

If the Senate lacks a "live quorum" to vote on an issue, she said, the sergeant-at-arms will call absent senators to alert them of need for a quorum, "but we do not provide transportation."

She said the sergeant-at-arms might occasionally bring in a senator from his home on a special occasion, "but it would not be in a Capitol Police car. It would probably be an official Senate car."

Goldwater, reportedly in New York during much of yesterday, could not be reached for comment.