Staffing issues have a ‘knock’ on police response times in Barnsley, Chief Supt confirms

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A public accountability board was told that response time in Barnsley could be “slowly but surely” improving with hundreds of officers currently in training.

A report made by Deputy Chief Constable Tim Forber shows that while overall Emergency response times have increased to 71% within the target of 15 minutes as well as the attendance to Priority cases – from 39% to 41% within 60 minutes – the number of officers trained and capable of responding “remains below capacity”.

In last week’s (May 4) Public Accountability Board meeting Police Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said the findings were “rather alarming”.

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He said: “If you’re below capacity, you’re not going to reduce demand if you can’t get them to capacity, presumably.”

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan BillingsSouth Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings

Chief Superintendent Simon Wanless, who is the District Commander for the Barnsley district, said they had a “steady stream of student officers coming through the process”.

He added: “It’s fair to say that some of our response teams suffered obstructions more than others through ill-health, retirements, transfers…

“That does have an immediate knock on our ability to perform against response times.”

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Chief Supt Wanless added a plan for the summer months was in place and the response teams would be “established” come October and November.

Dept Chief Const Forber said they had recruited 1,400 officers and of those 400 are “here now” in training so staff issues could “in the 18 months slowly and surely alleviate itself”.

Dr Billings also asked Chief Supt Wanless about child sexual exploitation (CSE) as he said, “I don’t see that often in Barnsley reports”.

Chief Supt Wanless said: “Whilst CSE isn’t mentioned specifically, it’s captured within the child exploitation arena, more generally.

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“I think it’s fair to say that over the recent years we were focused heavily around child sexual exploitation and then we moved towards child criminal exploitation.”

The report also shows that the number of residential burglaries went down from the previous quarter (329) to 258 in the borough. Police reported 18 arrests for residential burglaries and a further seven for other types of burglaries, a report shows.

Dr Billings asked: “I just want to hear how many people are we actually catching and locking up in Barnsley?”

Chief Supt Wanless said “a reasonable number (of people)”. However, he added, getting people to court is a “slightly different matter.”

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He added last Autumn the number of burglaries a month was up to 150-160-170. It’s now down to 95, the Chief Supt added.

The board was also told they (the service) are “heading in the right direction” and taking this matter seriously.

Dept Chief Const Forber added a significant proportion of these crimes were committed by a “very small amount” of people.

He said: “When we arrest one and put them in prison, that generally stops a significant proportion of burglary.”

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The board heard that a survey had found that 59 per cent feel that officers in Barnsley treat everyone fairly.

Dr Billings asked the Chief Supt whether he thought it was a good result.

He said: “I think it could be better, clearly.

“I think there’s more work for us to do.”

It was also reported that 76 per cent feel people are treated with respect.