New figures reveal increase in murders in South Yorkshire

Detectives in South Yorkshire launched 19 murder and manslaughter investigations last year – up six on the year before.

By Claire Lewis
Friday, 26 April, 2019, 12:34

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that there was a six per cent increase in ‘police reported homicides’ nationally last year, with 732 recorded – the highest since 2007 when the toll hit 765.

Police in Chapeltown following a fatal stabbing last year

Knife crime also reached a record level last year in England and Wales, official figures show.

Police forces across the country recorded 40,829 offences involving knives or sharp objects in 2018, an increase of six per cent in a year and the largest total since comparable data began in 2011.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said the ‘deeply troubling’ figures show ‘reckless’ police funding cuts ‘must end’.

Fellow Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the ‘disturbing increase’ in violent crime comes as arrests continue to fall.

"The police are completely overstretched and crime prevention work is far too limited," she said.

"The problem of violent crime is going to get worse unless the Government acts, and it is families and communities across the country who are paying a terrible price."

Policing minister Nick Hurd said the Government would continue ‘urgent and unprecedented action’ to ‘reverse this terrible trend’.

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He said greater powers have been granted to officers, more than £1 billion has been funnelled into policing and that a greater emphasis was being put on prevention.

Barnado's chief executive Javed Khan said the ONS figures ‘confirm we are now living through a knife crime crisis’ and urged action to prevent condemning ‘future generations to live in an endless spiral of violence’.

"Children are not born with knives in their hands. They don't feel safe. And they don't believe there's an alternative on offer - too many see little or no possibility of a positive future - what we call a 'poverty of hope'," he added.

Last year there were nine fatal stabbings in South Yorkshire.

And last May detectives launched five murder probes in the space of two weeks.

South Yorkshire’s Chief Constable Stephen Watson said the number of homocides in such a short space of time was 'unprecedented' for his force.

The crime spree began on May 19 when Claire Louise Smith, 42, was found dead in Union Street, Barnsley.

Three days later, 22-month-old Erin Tomkins, from Gleadless Valley, died at Sheffield Children's Hospital, having being admitted with head injuries the day before.

The following day - Wednesday, May 23 - Ryan Jowle, 19, was stabbed to death in Tannery Close, Woodhouse.

And on Thursday, May 24 - Samuel Baker, 15, was also stabbed to death after being attacked in Lowedges Road, Lowedges.

On Thursday, May 31, Sheffield massage parlour boss Jill Hibberd, 73, was found stabbed to death in her home in Barnsley.

Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “I am encouraged to see an overall reduction in crime in South Yorkshire in the latest ONS crime stats.  “South Yorkshire Police is totally committed to reducing crime and this overall drop is the result of our officers' hard work to ensure that the region’s communities remain a safe place in which to work, visit and live.  “Although increases in some areas - including drug offences and possession of weapons - may appear to be a cause for concern, they are crime types that reflect our proactive approach and are priority areas for the force. We therefore put a lot of emphasis on taking prompt and decisive action against those who engage in this type of crime.  “We experienced a significant spike in homicides during this period, however our teams worked extremely swiftly to identify suspects in all cases, with a number of these now going through the judicial process.”