South Yorkshire: More than 200 crimes including sexual assaults committed in churches and graveyards last year

More than 200 crimes were committed in South Yorkshire’s churches and graveyards last year, including sexual assaults and kidnapping.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 6:52 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 10:17 am

Data obtained from 38 of the 45 UK police force areas by the Countryside Alliance shows that last year more than 4,000 crimes were committed in churches and graveyards across the UK.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the region’s crime figures for churches and graveyards were high, with 227 reported crimes last year.

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Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said the region's crime figures for churches and graveyards were high, with 227 reported crimes last year.

This is ahead of West Yorkshire, with 189 reported crimes and North Yorkshire, with 53.

Crimes in South Yorkshire churches and graveyards include 81 cases of theft, 65 of criminal damage and 43 of violence.

There were incidents of kidnapping, stalking, drug trafficking, possession of weapons and sexual assault.

Dr Billings said: “Each year the police hold a national week when they focus intensively on metal crime, some of which is stolen from places of worship. Metal is recovered and there have been many prosecutions.

“Overall, the number of metal theft crimes has decreased – which is good news.

“But as far as theft and burglary is concerned, there is probably much more that church leaders could do. Isolated churches with lead on easily reachable porch roofs are particularly targeted.

“And no one should repeat the mistake of the church that conveniently had a wheely bin standing by for thieves to load the lead into and take away.

“Perhaps church leaders in South Yorkshire could undertake an annual check of their buildings with a view to prevention.”