New police task force takes weapons off the streets of South Yorkshire

Police have reported a string of successes in less than four days since a new task force was introduced to help cut out violent crime across South Yorkshire.

Briefing: Task force officers prepare to conduct a land search
Briefing: Task force officers prepare to conduct a land search

The force is one of seven in the country awarded money to fund a year of operations violent criminals as part of the Government’s response to the national knife crime epidemic.

A grant of £2.58m will be spent over the next 12 month on ‘surge’ operations, high profile policing work to make sure violent criminals face tougher enforcement action.

Some money will go on overtime for officers to bolster specific tasks, but a 25 strong team headed by an inspector has been put together to conduct day to day operations in the year ahead.

In less than four days they have seized nine vehicles and taken four knives from people, with 48 stop and search checks conducted.

Seven people have been arrested over allegations of offences involving weapons or drugs, while others have been cautioned for drug offences.

The team has also been involved in an open-land search, a detailed check of an area where it was suspected they may discover items used by criminals.

Chief Constable Stephen Watson has promised the public will see the results of that high intensity policing in the months ahead and said: “I want to see more interventional policing on the ground, doing so professionally and compassionately, to keep the public on our side.

“We are very keen to step this up, there will be a very visible effect.”

In addition to the task force, colleagues will be used on overtime to help boost their activity further still.

The team was launched on Monday and started with work in Doncaster and have also been involved in operations in north Sheffield, though they will working across the county.

South Yorkshire has seen an increase in knife crime, with a spate of serious incidents and deaths in 2018, but latest figures had shown a slight decrease in offences.

It is hoped the work of the task force will help accelerate that reduction as those tempted to carry weapons begin to realise the chances of being caught have increased.

Two further grants, awarded to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, are also being put to use in trying to identify those at risk from getting involved in serious crime and diverting them.

One scheme will operate in every secondary school in Sheffield, along with older children in primary schools in specific areas, alongside moves to provide evening activities for young people in areas of the city where young people are at risk of being drawn into crime.

The second scheme will involve Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, using alternative tactics to try to prevent gangs from exploiting children.

to us via 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”