Death threats becoming more common in South Yorkshire

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South Yorkshire Police recorded more 'threats to kill' last year than before the pandemic, new figures show.

Death threats have become more common as part of a wider increase in online abuse – and new data shows that numbers have surged over the past few years.

New figures from the Home Office show the number of 'threats to kill' offences recorded by South Yorkshire Police has more than doubled in the past few years, from 765 in the year to June 2019 to 1,856 over the same period to June 2022. Threatening to kill someone is an offence that can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

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Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said that while these figures may reflect an increase in the number of people coming forward, police must take threats seriously.

Reports of death threats in South Yorkshire are going up, according to the policeReports of death threats in South Yorkshire are going up, according to the police
Reports of death threats in South Yorkshire are going up, according to the police

“Death threats are terrifying – especially because they are normally part of a bigger picture of abuse – like hate crime or domestic abuse. This huge rise in offences, coupled with a big drop in charging rates, suggests police are struggling to deal with the volume of this crime.”

In South Yorkshire, 211 of these offences resulted in a charge or summons in the year to June – 11.4 per cent of all offences. This was down from 20.6 per cent in the year to June 2019.

No suspect was identified in 10.5 per cent of cases, and 18.2 per cent of cases were dropped due to evidential difficulties, despite a suspect being identified and the victim supporting action.

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Calls for action against death threats have increased in recent years, with public figures, politicians and sportspeople speaking out about the volume of threats they face on social media.

Across England and Wales, 51,308 such offences were recorded by police forces, up 49 per cent from 34,398 before the pandemic.

Nationally, charge rates have dropped from 11.5 per cent in the 12 months to June 2019, to 6.6 per cent in the year to June 2022.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Police recorded violence should be interpreted with caution as increases may reflect improvements made by police forces in identifying and recording offences, as well as an increase in victims reporting incidents.

“We are injecting record funds into policing, giving police the powers they need to bear down on crime, and are on track to deliver on the manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers across England and Wales by March 2023,” they said.