More work promised to tackle violence in South Yorkshire as statistics reveal sharp increase

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has responded to the latest crime statistics which show offending in the county is up – on average – by only a quarter of the national increase.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th July 2019, 9:52 am

Some of that, Dr Alan Billings believes, is due to increased police activity in seeking out criminals who go out armed and drug offenders.

But he is also insistent more work needs to be done to tackle violent crime, which has increased by 19 per cent and includes domestic violence, the impact of which can affect whole families.

Robbery was also up in the county by five per cent and knife crime increased by two per cent, following a period where offences had fallen following a previous peak.

Abbeydale Road (photo: Google).

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Thefts are down by eight per cent and sexual offences have fallen by four per cent.

Police have had a series of Home Office grants for work including focused operations against criminals known to be involved in violent crime and the establishment of a Violence Reduction Unit, to help find long term answers to the issues behind such offending, alongside other public sector bodies.

Dr Billings said: “We have been saying for some time that the cuts in funding over the past decade will sooner or later have consequences in terms of crime.

“Some statistics need careful explanation. For instance, figures for possession of a weapon have increased by 30 per cent and drugs have increased by 28 per cent.

“But this probably reflects greater police activity in these areas: more people are being targeted and arrested.

“This police action will continue this year as the force uses a recent grant of £2.5m from the Home Office to target crime hot spots. There will be more arrests and convictions as they focus on organised crime groups and disrupt them.

“The same applies to stalking and harassment, with an increase of 48 per cent. This reflects the fact that more people feel confident in reporting these incidents to police.

“What we do need to work together on is violence. Too many children are living in homes where domestic abuse is prevalent.

“For them, violence in relationships is the norm.

“Working with partners, we need to break this cycle of abuse. This year we are setting up a Violence Reduction Unit to tackle violence in all its forms.

“Knife crime has increased by two per cent, but again this is lower than the national average of eight per cent.”

South Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley said: "I am pleased the latest ONS crime figures reflect the work that has gone into reducing crimes such as sexual offences, burglary and criminal damage across the region."While the two per cent rise in crime in South Yorkshire overall is obviously worrying for local residents, the increase is smaller than the English average of seven per cent and I would like to reassure our communities the county remains a safe place to work, visit and live. We are totally committed to tackling crime and run regular initiatives to crack down on emerging issues as and when they come to our attention.

"We are continuing to see a positive effect following the re-introduction of neighbourhood policing in the region, with reductions in reports of such crimes as residential burglaries, vehicle offences, shoplifting and arson."Although increases in some areas - including drug offences and possession of weapons - may appear a worry, these are to be expected due to our proactive approach where a lot of emphasis is put on taking prompt and decisive action against those who engage in this type of crime."We also note the increase in reports of stalking and harassment. Again, these are priority areas for the force and we have put in considerable work to encourage more people to come forward and report these crimes, while also highlighting the support we are able to provide to victims.”