OPINION: Questions to answer over Hillsborough gunman

At times it probably feels like an impossible balancing act.

Friday, 22nd January 2016, 5:46 am
Updated Friday, 22nd January 2016, 5:54 am
Police close the city centre bound side of the A61 at the junction with Leppings Lane

If South Yorkshire Police release information about crime, the people of Sheffield may take to social media to shout that there are too many wrongdoers around and police need to do more.

Fail to provide information, and the cops are accused of clamming up or being evasive.

We do our best to provide as much information as we can on the important issues affecting our communities across the region – and that very much includes when a gunman is on the loose.

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On Wednesday evening, The Star broke the story of the shooting in Hillsborough which left a 25-year-old man in hospital.

That same evening, the police moved to reassure the public, stressing that it was a ‘targeted attack’, and that residents had no reason to feel in danger.

Since then, nothing. What is happening in the hunt for the gunman? Is there any truth to the eyewitness accounts, obtained by our reporter on the scene, who stated he saw balaclava-clad men shoot at a car they had chased from Wadsley Bridge? What is being done to reduce gun crime in Hillsborough and across Sheffield as a whole?

These are the questions which need to be answered.

It’s important to remember, of course, that the police are doing a very difficult job in times of dwindling police budgets.

For evidence of that, look no further than page 7, where the Police and Crime Commissioner is reacting to a three per cent rise in crime in South Yorkshire, including a 46 per cent rise in sexual offences.

Getting out there and catching the gunman, and many other criminals besides, quite rightly remains number one priority for the force, and the efforts of every officer out on the streets attempting to put these people behind bars must be applauded.

But the force also has a duty to inform the public, not just about the Hillsborough incident but about the true picture of crime across the city on a daily basis. That communication has always been a cornerstone of the trust we place in the police force, and it’s vital that it is protected.

By being fully informed, every individual across the city can also help to play their ever more important part in tackling crime: to be the eyes and ears for the force in every area, on every street, 24 hours a day.

We all want to fight crime together, as a city – and every detail shared can only help that.