Fewer suspects charged with crimes in South Yorkshire than ever before

Fewer suspects are being taken to court in South Yorkshire than ever before, figures show.

By Patrick Jack
Saturday, 13th November 2021, 7:30 am

Home Office figures show that of the 34,106 investigations concluded in South Yorkshire between April and June, 2,435 resulted in charge or summons – 7.1 per cent.

This was down from 10.2 per cent during the same three months in 2020, and the lowest level for the period since comparable records began in 2014.

Nationally, the proportion of offenders charged or ordered to court fell over this period from 9.4 per cent to 7.6 per cent, which was also a record low for the quarter.

Fewer suspects than ever before are being charged with crimes in South Yorkshire, new figures reveal

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The charity Victim Support said the low proportion of criminal suspects charged threatens to undermine the criminal justice system.

It said the low volume of suspects taken to court has been a “major issue” for a long time, and it has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jeffrey DeMarco, the charity’s assistant director, added: “This has the real potential of seriously impacting victims’ security and wellbeing while also damaging trust and confidence in the wider criminal justice system.

“It can also make moving on after being victimised even more difficult.”

Stephanie Boyce, President of The Law Society of England and Wales, said the backlog of cases may take years rather than months to reach court.

She added: “Because memories fade over time, there is a risk that evidence given in court will not be as good as if cases were brought promptly, which may affect the outcome.

“It could mean that cases are dropped, for example if victims decide they are no longer prepared to go through with the case.”

Of the investigations closed in South Yorkshire between April and June, 37 per cent were for violence – the most common type, followed by theft offences (27 per cent) and public order offences (12 per cent).

A Government spokeswoman said changes in charge rates are likely to be the result of more crimes being recorded by police and forces taking on more complex cases which could take longer to resolve.

She added: “We kept the system moving in the most challenging of circumstances, but we are determined to do more to deliver change across the entire criminal justice system.

“Our Beating Crime Plan works collaboratively with police, courts, prison and probation services to drive down crime and protect victims - and we will hold our operational partners to account, to ensure victims’ perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Earlier this month, the Office of National Statistics figures released showing an overall five per cent reduction in crime in South Yorkshire, with thefts down 21 per cent, burglaries and knife crime both down 15 per cent and robberies down 14 per cent.

There was also a slight decrease in sexual offences.

But in the 12 months to June, compared to the previous year, drug offences increased by 21 per cent.

The hike is being linked to an increase in ‘targeted work’ by South Yorkshire Police to tackle gangs and drug supply in the county.