No more officers will be lost as crime falls

SOUTH Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Med Hughes pledged no further reductions in number of officers over the next year - as a 12 per cent decrease in crime was revealed.

Latest figures, hailed by the force as a "significant fall," show 103,918 offences in the county from January to December 2010, 13,622 fewer than the previous 12 months.

The biggest fall involved fraud and forgery, down by 29 per cent or 987 crimes to 2,418.

Criminal damage fell 21 per cent, vehicle crime was down 18 per cent, including a 23 per cent decrease in vehicle theft, and a 15 per cent decline in thefts from vehicles.

Drug offences fell 11 per cent. Total violent crime fell 14 per cent, while robbery, gun and knife crime showed reductions of between five and 10 per cent.

But theft and handling stolen goods increased by 3 per cent and the rate of decline in house burglaries over recent years has slowed, with offences falling by 3 per cent. Sexual offences increased by one per cent.

Mr Hughes said: "Rises in theft and handling stolen goods, which have continued since December, reflect the economic downturn, while more reported sexual offences does not reflect an increase but better advice and support is encouraging victims to come forward."

Mr Hughes said he was confident the good performance could continue - despite the big financial squeeze facing public bodies.

After 70 officers retire during the next few months, there are no further plans to reduce police in 2011/12, but Mr Hughes could give no assurances for the following years.

"With police community support officers, the Government has pledged funding will continue," he added.

The Chief Constable said the fall in crime happened despite loss of 200 officers in recent years. It has been achieved through efficiencies such as equipping officers with Blackberry phones to complete paperwork remotely and reduction in back-office duties.

Mr Hughes predicted that the fight against crime could be hit by wider cuts to public services.

"Much crime reduction has been delivered through work with other public bodies such as treating drug addicts, making public housing safer and intervention with young people. Where these services are curtailed, crime is likely to rise," he said.

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