South Yorkshire: Crime falling across the county

Crime has fallen by seven per cent in South Yorkshire according to Government statistics.

By Sam Chetwynd
Thursday, 18th July 2013, 3:26 pm

The biggest reductions were recorded in crimes of antisocial behaviour, violence, theft, criminal damage and arson.

The fall means there were some 7,000 fewer crimes in the year ending March 2013, compared to the previous 12-month period.

It was the 24th successive year that crime has fallen in South Yorkshire.

Chief Supt Rob Odell said: “Continuing to reduce crime year after year is a considerable achievement, and is the result not just of the effectiveness of the police but the assistance we have and continue to receive from the public of South Yorkshire, from the Police and Crime Commissioner and our many partner agencies.”

“It’s important to remember that these reductions have been achieved against a backdrop of severely reduced budgets.”

”As budgets have been cut, so too have we had to provide a service with fewer people. We now have some 150 fewer police officers than we did in February 2011 and some 500 fewer police support staff.”

“However, we are not and will not be complacent. Pleasing though these figures are, we have some considerable way to go yet, particularly in those areas where we have seen some increases in crime.”

The figures for the period 1st April 2012 to 31st March this year show an increase in several categories of acquisitive crime, including offences of shoplifting (up by five per cent), house burglary (up by eight per cent) and robbery (up by three per cent).

Chief Supt Odell said: “It may be premature and rather speculative to link the rise in these types of crime with the state of the economy and how that may be affecting people. We fully recognise that hard times may lead to an increase in shoplifting, theft and other similar crimes.”

“What matters is that we are aware of the rises and that we take appropriate action.”

He said that early identification of a sudden increase in house burglary led to the creation of a force-wide initiative to combat the problem. Operation Optimal involves forecasting those areas and homes must vulnerable to potential break-ins, deploying extra resources to those areas and providing crime prevention advice to residents in the areas at risk.

Whilst all types of theft is down by 3,785 crimes, the five per cent rise in shoplifting - an additional 488 crimes in the last year - has seen police step up action.

Dedicated days of action have targeted retail crime in recent months throughout the towns of South Yorkshire, and officers are working with stores to analyse CCTV and to identify ways to reduce opportunities to commit crime.

Although crimes of violence against the person have fallen by 770 crimes (a seven per cent drop) there has been a rise in sexual offences (up by 25 crimes).

To help tackle the rise, the force has set up a unit of officers and staff dedicated to tackling the offence of rape, working closely with key partners in health and social care, and ten new detectives are now specialising in tackling child sexual exploitation.

In addition to the overall seven per cent reduction in total crime, the force is holding the line with its detection rate, with nearly one in every three crimes reported being detected.

Chief Superintendent Odell said: “With fewer officers and support staff available, we are having to find different ways of delivering our services, not least by making better use of technology.”

“For example, we are using mobile technology to record crimes in situ, rather than requiring officers to have to return to a police station to fill in reports. We are also seeking to glean as much forensic evidence at the first visit to the scene of the crime. And among other plans, we hope to launch a new on-line crime tracking system later this year which will not only save officer time but provide a far more enhanced and useful mechanism for victims to communicate with officers.”