A ‘BIG BROTHER’ style state - with CCTV cameras on every South Yorkshire street corner - would be needed if all the county’s crimes are ever to be solved, a police chief warned today.
Police would also require access to everybody’s mobile phone, and hundreds of extra officers would need to flood the streets, to identify and arrest the offenders responsible for every single crime.
Speaking after The Star revealed only a quarter of the county’s crimes were solved last year, Chief Superintendent Simon Torr - the man responsible for the policing of Sheffield - said: “I agree the overall detection rate is not what victims will want - and I would like to us to be in a position to be able to detect every single crime.
“However I would need a CCTV camera on every street, hundreds more officers, and access to everybody’s mobile phones.
“Is that the kind of society people want?”
Three out of every four crimes in the county - 28,595 out of 102,145 offences - went unsolved last year.
The overall South Yorkshire detection rate is on par with that of most other forces across the country.
But crimes deemed unlikely ever to be solved are ‘written off’ to avoid staff being tied up on incidents that are never going to result in charges.
“Realistically we have to balance the solvability of a crime with the resources we have and the chances of a conviction,” Chf Supt Torr said.
“With some less serious crimes there just is no evidence - nobody has seen anything and there are no forensics - so they are difficult to detect.”
There are currently 144 closed-circuit TV cameras dotted around Sheffield city centre and some suburbs, including Darnall, Burngreave and Tinsley.
But rather than installing more and more, Chf Supt Torr said he wanted decent, upstanding, Sheffield people to help by acting as the ‘eyes and ears on the streets’.
“I know that in many communities people know who is responsible for committing crimes, but for their own reasons don’t want to get involved and tell us,” he said.
“I want them to take a stand, and to be our eyes and ears on the streets, because the more evidence we have got the more chance we have of detecting crimes.
“I am calling on members of the public to help us by telling us everything they know about those committing crimes in their communities, and reporting anything suspicious, because the more information we have the more opportunities there are for us to detect crimes.”
Chf Supt Torr said he was pleased with the force’s success in tackling the most serious crimes, including murder, burglary, violence and hate crime.
And recorded crime in South Yorkshire is falling year on year, with offences of ‘gun, gang and violent crime’ all decreasing.
“The most serious crimes, and those that are a priority for areas, are what we concentrate on and I am proud of the detection rates we have for murder, burglary and hate crime,” he said.
But he admitted crimes including criminal damage and minor fires are notoriously difficult to crack if they are committed during the hours of darkness when there are no witnesses.
“There are no crimes whatsoever that are automatically written off,” he promised. “We assess the solvability of every single one and, if we have a line of inquiry, we will follow it.
“But I have a finite number of resources, and I don’t believe the public really want officers spending time on offences where realistically there is no chance of ever finding those responsible.”