There was a minimal increase in recorded crime in South Yorkshire in the last year, despite extremely challenging budget cuts and changes to the policing landscape.
Recorded crime increased by 1.5% in the year up to June 2014, national statistics released today (Thursday 16 October) reveal.
Despite an increase in total crime, many offences have fallen in the last 12 months, including theft of motor vehicles (-15%), theft from vehicles (-15%), vehicle crime (-13%), criminal damage and arson (-7%), drugs offences (-12%) and theft (-2%).
Tackling burglary has been a priority for the force and extra resources and improved processes have driven reductions in all four districts, with house burglary down by 10%.
The reduction in many crime areas has been achieved despite the force being asked to make savings of £45 million by 2017.
All forces have experienced a rise in sexual offences, with an increase of 80% in South Yorkshire (725 further offences). It is not believed to be due to more sexual offences being committed but a positive sign that, following high-profile sexual abuse investigations, victims are reporting abuse because they believe they will be listened to and treated sensitively.
A proportion of the increase in South Yorkshire will also be a result of a recent change in the way the force records sexual offences, in that all reports are now automatically recorded as crimes.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Holt said: “Despite continued challenges, we have worked extremely hard to ensure overall crime levels have remained relatively static. The force is committed to delivering the best possible service to victims of crime – whether they’ve been robbed or burgled or have made the courageous decision to tell us about sexual abuse they’ve endured.
“We are committed to tackling sexual offences and we continue to sensitively work with victims to bring offenders to justice. Child sexual exploitation is a top priority for the force and we’ve implemented a six-fold increase in the amount of staff dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation.
“The willingness of victims to report sexual offences is encouraging. Sexual assault victims can understandably find it extremely difficult to come forward and this significant increase in recorded offences gives me confidence that victims are telling us about what’s happened to them in the belief they will be listened to.”
In line with most other forces in England and Wales, South Yorkshire has seen an increase in violence against the person (+ 28%).
In line with other forces nationally, possession of offensive weapons also increased (+18%), as well as shoplifting (+6%).
DCC Holt added: “Despite continued cuts and increased demand on the force to do more with less, we are making best use of our officers and staff and focusing on our priorities. We remain committed to keeping people safe, bringing offenders to justice, and making South Yorkshire a safer place to live, visit and work.”