Police chiefs in South Yorkshire are to recruit new bobbies over the next few months to boost the frontline in the fight against crime.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson has announced the recruitment of an initial 40 new officers but he said a review is underway to find extra cash to boost numbers further.
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He revealed his recruitment plan as it emerged that his force had moved out of so called ‘special measures’ after a series of improvements over the last two years.
Chf Con Watson said: “We don’t have the money. We have to create the money from within the organisation to be able to afford to put more police officers on the frontline.
“It’s a process we are embarked upon.”
He said the 40 new officers are a ‘down payment' on even more officers he hopes to employ once finances are in place.
“The public are crying out for this,” the police chief added.
“It is my view that we need more police officers to do more of the things that our people are demonstrating themselves very capable of doing.”
He said neighbourhood policing teams could be boosted because they are beginning to yield results.
“They are demonstrating that far from drowning under demand, our people are very busy but really starting to get stuck in to that demand and we can see that among the top 40 locations for demand, all but four are starting to see reductions.
“This is practical problem solving – officers on the ground to tackle problems on the ground before they become issues we have to respond to.”
Chf Con Watson said of all the crimes dealt with by his force, ‘knife enabled crime’ has become a ‘real priority’.
Mirroring a national trend, knife crime has increased in South Yorkshire over recent years, with Sheffield having seen eight fatal stabbings in Sheffield since the start of the year.
But South Yorkshire’s police chief claims the ‘rate of increase is slowing’ and over the last quarter there has been a ‘decline’ in offences.
“It is important to keep things in perspective. Knife crime is becoming more topical and is reportedly on more widely but this can also give the impression that numbers are going up and up but we have started to see an actual decline,” he stressed.
“While it does happen, and we have seen some terrible and shocking examples of where innocent members of the public got caught up, for the most part this is not about bad people attacking nice people with knives.
“They are individuals who have got themselves into a difficult place and then they settle disputes with knives.
“We are actively engaged with partners in trying to address this issue from the root causes right through to the classic police response.
“We will continue to do all we can to reduce these numbers and to persuade people, particularly young people, that carrying a knife is arguably one of the most stupid decisions you can make in this life. No good can come from it.
“Yes, there are many (knife crimes) happening, and far too many, but there are 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire and the chances of it happening to you are still very low.”