Threat to life warnings on the rise in Sheffield and South Yorkshire
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Threat to life notices, or Osman warnings, are given to people if the police have intelligence of a real and immediate threat to their life. They are used when there is intelligence of the threat, but not enough evidence to justify the police arresting the potential murderer.
No fewer than 32 people in South Yorkshire received a death threat warning from police in 2019 – nearly 20 per cent more than the previous year – a Freedom of Information request has shown.
In the last five years, South Yorkshire Police has issued 234 warnings to people whose lives are in serious danger.
The highest number of warnings, 72, was given out in 2016, the same year one woman who spoke to The Star anonymously was told she was at risk of being killed.
She still remembers it vividly.
"They came to my house quite late one evening, about 10 o'clock, and said I had to be careful, I had to watch my movements. I couldn't go into Sheffield city centre alone,” she said.
The warning was served following months of "threats and intimidation" to the woman from those suspected of plotting to murder her.
"It was more of a shock to members of my family than myself," she said.
"The police had some intel, something was said in a telephone conversation that I was at risk. They issued me this notice and checked what security measures I had at home.”
A police-monitored alarm was fitted in the woman's house after she received the news.
She added: "They checked up on me from time to time and gave me tips for anything I thought was untoward, or if I was home alone or saw anyone hanging around that I was worried about.”
The police no longer check in on the woman at her home but they maintain semi-regular telephone contact.
She said: "It's had a big impact on my life. It was a really bad, horrible time.
"I felt like I couldn't go away overnight without letting the police know because they would ring me up to make sure I was OK.”
Although the number of threat to life warnings issued in South Yorkshire dropped from 2016 to 2018, they rose again the following year.
The woman added: "The police gave me a codeword to use and if I didn't answer the phone and use it I knew they would come to the house.
"I was very mindful of the warning. Even if I just went to my local shops I was mindful I had to be extremely careful.
Some details of the woman’s story have been left out to avoid the risk of her being identified and potentially harmed.
"I firmly believe I would put myself at risk otherwise," she said.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “As an organisation, when we are in receipt of any information that may necessitate a threat to someone’s life, an assessment is conducted in relation to the threat and the most appropriate action is taken relevant to the specific or surrounding circumstances.”