South Yorkshire loses 100 police officers as violent crime increases

Police officers on patrol in Sheffield
Police officers on patrol in Sheffield

South Yorkshire Police has lost more than 100 frontline officers over the last three years, while violent crime in the county has increased.

The Police Federation claims that a reduction in the ‘eyes and ears’ of police services is causing communities to suffer.

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Figures from the Home Office show that 166 officers, in roles categorised as 'visible operational frontline,’ were lost at South Yorkshire Police between March 2015 and this year - a drop of 10 per cent.

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Over the same period, the number of violent crimes recorded in South Yorkshire more than doubled, with 38,256 violent crimes recorded in the 12 months to March this year.

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In total, there were 1,458 officers in visible frontline roles this March, including 1,177 neighbourhood officers, who are posted in communities to gather intelligence and provide help at scenes of crimes.

Across England and Wales, more than 7,000 visible frontline officers have been lost over the last three years - a reduction of 11 per cent.

Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said: “Since 2010, we have lost more than 21,000 police officers with 80 per cent of those being taken from the frontline.

“Neighbourhood officers represent the backbone of policing in this country - local officers who are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the service, providing a reassuring presence on the streets helping to detect and prevent crimes.

“As we lose neighbourhood officers we lose the vital investigative and intelligence-gathering roles they perform in our communities.

“The Government has to acknowledge that as violent crime increases, and with the ever-present threat of terrorism, the cuts to the service are coming home to roost and it is our communities that are suffering as a result."

The Home Office includes a number of other roles as 'non-visible frontline', such as those involved intelligence gathering operations.

These also dropped in number in South Yorkshire Police, from 774 in 2015 to 677 this year.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: “Forces are changing how they deliver local policing to reflect the priorities of local people and so that they can respond better to the changing nature of crime. They recognise effective community engagement is more than just having a visible police presence. Prevention, partnership working, problem-solving and safeguarding the vulnerable remain key.

“Decisions about front line policing, and how resources are best deployed, are for Chief Constables and democratically accountable Police and Crime Commissioners. Most have already set out plans to either protect or increase front line policing this year.

“Last year, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service spoke to every force about the changing demand they face and we are helping with a £460 million increase in overall funding 2018/19, including increased funding to tackle counter-terrorism and increased funding for local policing through council tax precept.”

South Yorkshire Police launched a recruitment drive this week.

The force has not yet revealed how many new officers it wants but those interested have to formally register their interest between 9.30am on Thursday, September 13 and 11.55pm on Monday, September 17.

Before then, information events are to be held at Robert Dyson House at the Callflex Business Park, Golden Smithies Lane, Wath upon Dearne, at 6.30pm next Monday and Tuesday.