Crime falls sharply in Sheffield, but drug offences soar by 40%
Crime in Sheffield has fallen over the last year, official police records reveal, but the number of drug offences has soared.
South Yorkshire Police recorded 49,544 offences in Sheffield in the 12 months to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.
That was a decrease of 14% compared to the previous year, when there were 57,665.
At 84.7 crimes per 1,000 people, that was higher than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 77.6.
The biggest reduction was in thefts, which fell by a third, with 15,052 offences recorded.
Drug crime was up by 40%, with 2,044 offences recorded.
Other crimes recorded in Sheffield included:
1,230 sexual offences, a decrease of 18%
16,794 violent offences, a decrease of 4%
5,843 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 7%
672 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, down 10%
5,802 public order offences, up 2%
6,758 stalking and harassment offences, up 7%.
Overall, police recorded 13% fewer crimes, excluding fraud, across England and Wales, with around 4.6 million offences in the year to March.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said it was important to consider when comparing the figures with previous years what impact the pandemic has had on crime rates.
He also told how the rise in drug offences being recorded may be a sign that the force’s proactive work to disrupt and tackle gang-related crime is ‘bearing fruit’, with more crime being detected and more offenders prosecuted.
The ONS said the annual drop was helped by a "substantial" fall in crime during April last year, when the first lockdown restrictions were introduced.
The number of recorded crimes increased between July and September, it added, before decreasing again as lockdown measures were imposed toward the end of last year.
However, in March this year, recorded crime was higher than the previous year as the phased exit from lockdown started.
Billy Gazard, from the ONS Centre for Crime and Justice, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on patterns of crime.
"There were large decreases in theft offences, such as domestic burglary and theft from the person, as more people stayed at home and limited their social contact."
But the figures did show a 28% increase in stalking and harassment offences across England and Wales in the year ending in March, compared to the previous year.
This was driven by an increase in cyber stalking cases during the pandemic, according to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.
The trust, which was set up to support victims of stalking following the disappearance of Suzy in 1986, said it had seen a rise in calls to its helpline since March last year.
Violet Alvarez, spokesperson from the trust, said: "We know that domestic abuse has risen drastically during the pandemic, and this is evident in the rise of ex-intimate partner stalking cases that we have seen on the helpline."
She said specialist training across police forces and courts was needed to ensure victims were adequately cared for and understood.
Across South Yorkshire, theft was down 32%, robbery fell by 24% and knife crime reduced by 19%, but drug offences rose by 26%.