Police planning better protection against burglars across South Yorkshire
New tactics against house burglars used successfully in parts of Sheffield and Doncaster are expected to be rolled out across other South Yorkshire communities in the months ahead.
The Rotherham district of Swinton is among the likely candidates for police action called Operation Shield, which aims to deter offenders from striking in areas where burglary is a problem.
It was launched in the autumn in the Gleadless Valley area of Sheffield, along with the Doncaster communities of Mexborough, Edlington, Hexthorpe and Balby, areas where links between burglary and drug abuse have been suspected by police.
The Shield tactics involve officers making home visits to mark residents’ valuables with Smartwater, an invisible liquid which leaves a unique and irremovable mark on items which have been treated.
That makes stolen goods easier to trace and easier for police to link back to offenders, meaning those who steal marked items are more likely to end up in court.
Areas where homes have had Smartwater treatment are advertised with signs attached to streetlights and that has proved an effective deterrent, with problems in Gleadless reduced since the scheme went live.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings told a meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel, a body made up of councillors to hold him and his office to account, that the work was now to be continued in other locations across the county, with Swinton expected to be on the list.
Panel Vice Chairman Coun Stuart Sansome, who represents Rotherham Council, questioned whether police did enough to maintain public confidence following house burglaries, with residents reporting through social media they were not visited by police.
“I have real concerns that what you are being told is on the tin isn’t on the tin and isn’t in it, either. When someone has not had a visit, it is not always a mistake,” he said.
People were told to expect a visit within a set timescale but “I am not sure it happens” said Coun Sansome.
Dr Billings said: “Part of my job is to hear what people are saying about police responses and then investigate that.
“In South Yorkshire, all crimes are investigated. Whether you are visited is a decision that will have to be made.
“If police officers say they will call and then don’t, it leads to a collapse in confidence in the community. If they say they will call, they must do that,” he said.