Calls for more police on the streets of South Yorkshire

A bobby on the beat was once a common sight - and if you wanted to know the time, you asked a policeman.
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But could the same be said today - and would a visible police presence even be a deterrent in keeping the streets of South Yorkshire free from crime?

There are calls for more bobbies on the beat on South Yorkshire's streetsThere are calls for more bobbies on the beat on South Yorkshire's streets
There are calls for more bobbies on the beat on South Yorkshire's streets

We asked readers of The Star if they feel police are patrolling their areas enough, and whether it would make a difference if they were.

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And from Todwick to Totley, Barnsley to Beighton, the response was overwhelmingly unanimous: there simply aren't enough - or, indeed, any - bobbies on the beat in some areas.

Steve Bullock, from Kingstone, Barnsley, said: "I can honestly say, hand on heart, I have never seen one on foot - despite parts of the area being rife for drug dealing and other anti-social behaviours. You get the occasional drive-through after somebody has reported something, but never on foot."

Janet Crookes said: "We never, ever see one in our district, Norton."

Robert Alderton said police would be very welcome in his area of Sheffield, where speeding motorists are a problem.

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"I live at Meadowhead and some people treat it as a race track," he said.

Kenny Jarman quipped wryly: "I don't think there are any police in Rotherham."

Pete Hobson said he never sees the police - and wishes he did.

"I work nights in the town centre and never see any police, and I am always getting hassle at night."

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And Dee Dowling said: "I have lived in Todwick for years and have never seen one yet."

Some readers were critical of policing priorities on the occasions they had seen an officer on patrol, and said they only see bobbies on match days or after a serious crime had been committed.

Pat Gibson said the last time he had seen a policeman on foot was on The Moor. "There were half a dozen of them, with two dogs, moving on a group of homeless men," he said.

"The men were sat on the seats near the Moor Market, they weren't drinking, swearing or begging. They weren't causing any problems at all. It was a total power trip by the police, an absolute disgrace."

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And Yvonne White was similiarly scathing. "They don't even attend a 999 call or when your home has been attacked," she fumed.

Andrew Tingle said he felt standards have slipped in terms of uniform as well as visibility. He claimed when he did see a beat bobby "they look scruffy and no longer have the commanding presence they used to".

But other readers felt more sympathetic - and said policing numbers are a political issue rather than the fault of officers themselves.

Lee Owen said: "It's not the police's fault, it's the government's. More funding, and less paperwork, is needed."

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Dawn Michelle said there aren't enough police officers on the streets "because there simply aren't enough police officers, thanks to the government past and present."

And David Wild recalled: "There used to be two officers in patrol cars. It's now reduced to one and they're mainly 'firefighting' rather than patrolling."

Paul Metcalf rubbished government claims earlier this year to have hit a 2010 general election manifesto pledge to recruit 20,000 new police officers.

In April this year Home Office statistics showed the total number of officers recruited since the last election was 20,951, bringing the total number to almost 150,000 in England and Wales.

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But critics pointed to cuts in police numbers, and that around 20,000 officers were lost in the first place as a result of budget cuts during the period of austerity post-2010.

Paul said: "Twenty thousand coppers never happened and, even if it did, it would still be 1,000 short of 2010 levels."

Brian Kerrigan simply hankered for the old days when he said: "Bring the old beat bobbies back - in those days our streets felt safer and so did the community itself."

Earlier this year, South Yorkshire Police Federation chairman, Steve Kent, back Labour's plans to restore "bobbies on the beat" and put a new focus on neighbourhood policing.

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He said neighbourhood policing had been neglected in recent years, but adding that South Yorkshire Police was making great strides.

Mr Kent said: "In South Yorkshire it was a horror story when we basically got rid of neighbourhood policing 12 years ago. Now it’s back, and we’ve just received outstanding for our neighbourhood policing model, which is an unbelievable piece of work. It’s remarkable for our resources. Now we’ve got forces all over the country coming to the force to ask our advice, which is amazing."

But he added: "What we do need to see is more bums in seats in terms of neighbourhood policing. The model’s there, the structures there, the mechanics are there, but we just need to put some more petrol in and get the resources we need because we’re starting to see results."

He added: "Neighbourhood policing is a huge public confidence issue. We hope that will get better now that we’ve got the systems in place. We want local communities to recognise police officers more and more."

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