Serious violence could spike in Sheffield and Doncaster 'hotspots' as lockdown is lifted, ministers fear

Lifting lockdown could lead to a spike in violent crime in Sheffield and Doncaster, it is feared.

By Robert Cumber
Friday, 26th February 2021, 2:00 pm

They are among 30 ‘serious violence hotspots’ identified by ministers, who have written to police, local authorities and children’s services in those areas urging them to take preventative measures.

The Home Office confirmed that letters had been sent to safeguarding partnerships in Sheffield and Doncaster, following a report in the Telegraph which said the 30 areas in question were those which had seen the most hospital admissions for knife injuries between April and September last year.

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There are concerns that lifting lockdown could cause serious violence to spike in Sheffield and Doncaster

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The Government is determined to tackle the scourge of serious violence, and safeguard vulnerable children at risk of criminal exploitation.

“This is why on Monday 22 February ministers wrote to safeguarding partnerships in 30 serious violence hotspots, asking for local authorities, children’s services and the police to work with the Government to ensure that vulnerable children and young people, including those not attending school, are identified and protected as lockdown measures are eased.

“In addition, the Government is recruiting 20,000 new police officers to keep our communities safe and we are improving the police response in areas worst affected by serious violence by investing £176.5 million over the last two years through the Serious Violence Fund.”

She added that the Government was funding Violence Reduction Units, bringing together organisations within local communities to tackle violent crime and address its underlying causes, with an extra £35.5 million just announced for them in the coming year.

She said other support included more than £250m for youth organisations and £30m to provide new and refurbished ‘safe spaces’ for young people, in addition to the £4.6bn provided to help councils manage the additional pressures on local services due to Covid and £1.55bn pledged to help with Covid spending pressures next year.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police did receive a letter. However, this letter had been sent to all chief constables asking them to start preparing plans to reduce violent crime. The letter not highlight any particular area.

“As the country follows the exit strategy outlined by the Government, we will develop and adapt our policing response.”

The Star has contacted Sheffield and Doncaster councils, which have yet to respond.