South Yorkshire Police: The tactics being used by the police to make Sheffield city centre safer

A senior police officer has detailed the range of tactics being used by the police to make Sheffield city centre safer.

Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 6:15 am

When asked about the South Yorkshire Police’s response to anti-social behaviour in the city centre, including aggressive begging, Sheffield District Commander, Chief Superintendent Hemsley said the force was using a range of tactics to both tackle criminality and to ensure there is a visible police presence, which in turn, helps people to feel safer.

Chf Supt Hemsley cited Operation Sidewinder, through which police officers aim to create ‘a hostile environment for criminals’ while at the same time providing reassurance to the public, as one of the successful tactics used by the force.

It combines the use of CCTV, a sniffer dog, undercover officers and police intelligence to catch offenders and prevent drug use and anti-social behaviour.

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Sheffield District Commander, Chief Superintendent Hemsley said the force was using a range of tactics to both tackle criminality and to ensure there is a visible police presence. Picture: Scott Merrylees

“That’s one of the ways that we look to give visible reassurance to the public and demonstrate that we’re tackling the issues that people are concerned about because we do know, not just in the city centre But in most of our communities if we ask them what their priorities are it’s to deal with drug dealing and drug supply,” she said.

“That’s one of the public’s concerns and so Operation Sidewinder is a really very visible way that we demonstrate that we’re doing that in the city centre.”

The force also has a dedicated PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) who patrols the city centre first thing every morning to work with homeless people sleeping on the streets and offer ‘support and pathways’ for them – but Chf Supt Hemsley acknowledges it is a complex issue that requires multi-agency working with partners including Sheffield City Council.

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“One of the things that we know the public say that they’re concerned about is homeless people, it is about seeing people begging, and some of those people aggressively begging in the city centre that potentially makes them feel intimidated,” the police chief said.

“Certainly, the work that the PCSO does and the multi-agency work we’ve got around pathways out of homelessness help us to get a point where we might be able to get a criminal justice outcome when other routes to support that person have been exhausted.”

Earlier this month, Boots issued a statement a month after terrified staff told The Star they feared someone was going to get stabbed amid a rise in threats, spitting, aggression, discrimination, false accusations of assault and ‘brazen’ shoplifting.

A month on, a Boots spokesman said staff had been given additional training on ‘body worn’ cameras, panic buttons and reporting crimes.

When asked if South Yorkshire Police could be doing more to protect staff working at the city centre shop, Chf Supt Hemsley said: “I certainly do not want any of the shop employees to feel like that, absolutely I don’t, but equally as well it’s good that Boots is taking some responsibility for the security in their shop. But it needs to be a partnership approach.”

“I do know that one of our local sergeants who has worked over at the Fox Valley has done some really innovative work with Boots, and Boots as a group, around security and safeguarding of staff and reducing instances of theft.”

She added: “I think in terms of that, what we probably need to do is rekindle that relationship and remind Boots of that good relationship we’ve had at that time and whether or not what worked in Fox Valley could work in the city centre Boots.”