Crime in and around Doncaster’s four prisons is so rife that police have had to set up a special squad of officers to deal with nothing else – and two of the jails’ governors have agreed to pay for civilian investigators to help reduce the strain on the South Yorkshire force.
More than 100 offences every month are reported to South Yorkshire Police from Doncaster’s prisons and that needs a sergeant, four detectives and four constables to pursue investigations, numbers which have had to be increased recently to cope – with officers aware that organised crime is generated from within the prisons.
By contrast, the policing district currently has 26 officers to provide neighbourhood policing duties to the whole borough.
Some of the officers on prison investigation duties are expected to be replaced by civilian investigators, a new team of staff currently being recruited who will be used to take on some of the duties traditionally done by CID officers and two prisons have agreed to contribute towards the cost of employing them, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been told.
Doncaster’s district commander, Chief Supt Shaun Morley, speaking at PCC Dr Alan Billing’s public accountability board, said the three figure crime rate at the prisons was “a key demand from our perspective. We have increased numbers of staff within our prison investigation team.”
The scale of problems surrounding the prisons, which include HMP Doncaster, which also has a young offenders institution, Moorland and Lindholme, is so great a new prison board has been created to allow police to work more closely with the prison authorities.
“I think that is a real step in the right direction,” he said.
“Two of the prisons have agreed to fund civilian investigators and hopefully we will get the capability to pro-actively manage demand.
“Having spoken to the governors, they are clearly impressed by the increased pro-active aopproach around the prison estate. We are making inroads in addressing some of the organised crime activity which takes place in and around the prison estate,” he said.