Crime is down to lowest since 80s

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CRIME in South Yorkshire is at its lowest level since 1989, new figures reveal.

A total of 102,184 crimes were reported across the county last year - a drop of two per cent on the year before.

South Yorkshire Police said the figure is the lowest on record in 22 years, with violent crime, vehicle crime and fraud all showing reductions.

But burglaries, thefts and drug offences were on the up, with 7,447 house break-ins last year.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Bob Sanderson said the economy could be to blame. “We’re still managing to reduce overall crime, but the latest results show some individual increases, partly driven by the economy,” he said.

“Metal crimes and shoplifting offences have contributed significantly to rises in theft and burglary.”

He added: “Crime statistics are a useful performance indicator but we know what’s most important - the people who live and work in South Yorkshire.

“We’re committed to organising our officers and staff in the most efficient way to deliver the best possible service.”

The figures show violent crime reduced by 2,062 offences to 15,459, comparing January to December 2011 with the previous 12-month period.

The category includes assaults, which were down 1,926 to 13,749 offences, robberies down 77 offences to 853, and sexual offences which reduced by 59 crimes to 857. Vehicle crime dropped by 1,483 crimes to 12,533. The figures include the theft of vehicles, which dropped by 408 offences to 2,876, and the break-in of vehicles, down 948 to 8,492 reported offences.

Fraud and forgery fell 10 per cent, and reports of criminal damage reduced by seven per cent.

Firearms offences were down 49 per cent, from 174 incidents to just 88. And there were 45 fewer knife crimes, down to 474.

But there were 60 more house burglaries last year, at 7,447. Other burglaries went up by 734 crimes, to 9,418. Theft and handling stolen goods jumped by 10 per cent - a rise of 2,752 offences to 29,300 - and drugs offences were up 5,041 offences, a four per cent rise.

Asst Chf Con Sanderson said the increase in drug offences should not be seen as a negative - but due to targeted police work.

“Many offences are only recorded because of the resources we are putting into tackling drug crime, due to us listening to community concerns and being proactive,” he said. “The fact we are unearthing these offences is a positive and we hope our work will have an impact on other offences - crimes such as burglaries and car crime are closely associated with drugs.”

But he warned the overall downward crime trend may be halted when Government funding cuts bite.

The force needs to save over £40 million over the next few years.

“If you take 20 per cent of resources out over the next few years, meaning a reduction of officers, there is likely to be a knock-on effect so we could see the trend start to reverse. I hope not but we have to be prepared,” he said.