Violent crime, harassment and car thefts have surged across Sheffield, with increases in serious assault and possession of firearms with intent.
South Yorkshire Police figures obtained by The Star through a request under the Freedom of Information Act show reported crime has risen 8.2 per cent year-on-year in Sheffield, from 37,874 crimes in 2014-15 to 41,017 in 2015-16.
Within that, harassment has risen by 123 per cent year-on-year; causing public fear, alarm or distress has risen 71 per cent and theft of motor vehicles has risen 22 per cent.
Assault with injury has risen 22 per cent and assault with intent to cause serious harm is up 20 per cent.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said that it is too early to tell if cuts to policing have caused crime increases but said figures reflect ‘increased confidence’ in reporting.
He said: “The figures may not be as alarming as people think. It may reflect the fact more people are having confidence to come forward, and that’s a good thing.”
Possession of firearms with intent has increased 33 per cent. In total, there have been 187 reported incidents involving firearms in Sheffield in three years.
Dr Billings added: “We shouldn’t draw huge conclusions from relatively small increases. Sheffield is still a very safe city. Some of the firearms offences aren’t what they seem. You might think of a loaded gun, but often they may be airguns, they may be replica guns. I don’t see a huge increase in firearms activity in Sheffield of the kind that ought to make us alarmed.”
But he said that the force ‘needs to keep an eye on’ how budget cuts could have an impact.
He added: “You would expect in the end that if police officer numbers are cut, as they were by the coalition government in 2010, and in 2016, that there would be some impact on crime.
“The government would deny that, but it may be there is a time lag between those reductions and increases in crime.”
Dr Billings added that in future the force will focus on improving neighbourhood policing, after a recent Peer Review of South Yorkshire Police revealed there are fewer frontline officers in communities than before.
He said: “One of the things the report said was in the past 18 months the number of officers available at neighbourhood level has decreased, and that has had an impact. And we have to understand that, correct that and get it right.”
Superintendent Shaun Morley said the increase in violent crimes reflects a national trend.
He said: “We have had problems with violent crime and we have taken steps to address that.
“We have taken a more intelligence and demand-driven approach to violent crime, to make sure our resources target key locations with a visible presence in the area.”
Among the crimes to have gone down are burglary by 15 per cent; knife crime by nine per cent; possession of cannabis by 32 per cent and muggings by six per cent.
Supt Morley said the success of the burglary statistics is a result of the force’s ‘targeted’ approach on the crime, but said the large increase in harassment – from 500 crimes in 2014-15 to 1,119 in 2015-16 – is the result of better understanding.
He said: “Harassment started from a low base. We would expect that there has been significant under reporting and under recording.
“We are now much more effective at recognising and understanding harassment and related issues. I don’t think as a city we have a particular issue with harassment, but we have to recognise that it is an issue.”
THE KEY CRIME INCREASES AND DECREASES ACROSS SHEFFIELD
Firearms with intent offences up 33%, from 30 to 40
Possession of firearms general - 6% down, from 32 to 30
Possession of other weapons offences up 42%, from 77 to 100
Public fear, alarm distress up 71%, from 591 to 1,012
Assault with injury up 22%, from 3,085 to 3,773
Assault with intent to cause serious harm, 20% up, from 263 to 318,
Shoplifting up 5%, from 4,333 to 4,567
Theft from motor vehicle - 7.9% up, from 2,834 to 3,059
Harassment - 123% up, from 500 to 1,119
Theft of motor vehicle inc unauthorised taking - 22.7% up, from 734 to 901
Burglary - 15% down, from 2,680 to 2264
Possession of blade - 9% down, 195 to 176
Possession of cannabis - 32% down, from 787 to 532
Theft from person - 6.6% down, from 1,119 to 1,045
The Star has also reported the top 10 crime hotspots across Sheffield
And ALL the crime figures for the city: ALL the figures for your area of Sheffield