Shock rise in yob attacks

MORE than 20,000 yobbish incidents were reported in Barnsley in the last year - but the 23 per cent increase is being hailed a success for the borough's pioneering Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

Crime has fallen six per cent in the same period, with all nine SNT areas reporting a drop. In the last three years burglary has plunged by 52 per cent and vehicle crime is down by 38 per cent.

SNT bosses say the 20,152 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the year to April are due to the growth of SNTs - from six to nine in the same period - stronger community relations and more people willing to report problems. But they have an uphill battle to persuade people they are less at risk - those who felt unsafe outside after dark rose from 30 to 35 per cent.

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The SNT annual report also reveals that in the last year SNT officers made1,118 arrests - up 30 per cent - seized drugs worth 184,000 and 5,000 worth of alcohol.

Paul Brannan, head of the Neighbourhood Safety Unit, said: "The increase in reports of anti-social behaviour shows the SNTs are more accessible and people are more aware of them than ever. There will always be more demand than we can tackle but it certainly shows there's a need for the service."

But halting the rise in people who felt afraid would be a tough nut to crack, he added.

"I would hope over time perceptions will improve when people see a genuine upturn in their quality of life. Even good news stories can make people afraid because it heightens awareness of trouble generally."

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In the last year SNTs have also dealt with 470 fly-tipping incidents, collected 953 needles, organised 321 community clean-ups and removed 4,575 square metres of graffiti.

SNTs, which combine police and council officers, were established in Barnsley three years ago to combat yobs. They work closely with the Neighbourhood Safety Unit which tackles chronic cases of anti-social behaviour.

The SNT and NSU now has a total of around 150 people.

In the last year SNT officers have completed 61,294 hours of patrols, issued 1,205 anti-social behaviour warning letters and, with the NSU, issued 17 ASBOs. More than 300 fines have been issued for offences including graffiti, litter, fly-tipping and disorder.

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