Crime rates in South Yorkshire rising faster than almost anywhere in country, 'damning' records show

There was a 38 per cent increase in violent crime recorded in South Yorkshire last year
There was a 38 per cent increase in violent crime recorded in South Yorkshire last year

Violent crime in South Yorkshire leapt faster than almost anywhere in the UK last year, 'damning' new police figures show.

South Yorkshire Police recorded a 38 per cent increase in violence against the person during the year to March 2017 - higher than all but two of the other 42 regional police forces in England and Wales.

Overall, recorded crime in the area rose by 19 per cent year on year - the joint fourth highest rate - compared with a national average of 11 per cent.

The crime figures, published by the Office for National Statistics last Thursday (July 20), also reveal a sharp rise in robbery (up 38 per cent), possession of weapons (up 45 per cent) and public order offences (up 72 per cent).

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh blamed soaring crime rates both locally and nationally on plummeting numbers of police officers.

She said South Yorkshire Police had lost 655 officers this decade - almost a quarter of its strength - including 11 in the last year.

Ms Haigh, who is Labour's shadow policing and crime minister, said: "These damning new figures prove that this government cannot be trusted to keep Sheffield safe.

"Thanks to years of Conservative cuts, police numbers are now the lowest on record, at a time when forces are under unprecedented pressure. You can't protect the public on the cheap.

"This is the grim legacy of seven years of Tory austerity; dedicated police officers fighting hard to keep the public safe with fewer officers per head than ever before. Labour will recruit another 10,000 new police officers to help keep us safe."

South Yorkshire Police said although recorded crime had risen locally as it had done nationally, incidents of antisocial behaviour had fallen by four per cent last year.

It also pointed out that while violent crime had risen sharply, most of that increase was accounted for by a 70 per cent surge in violence without injury, while violence with injury was only up by 12 per cent.

The force also pointed out that its priority was tackling those offences which cause most harm, which is why it had recently launched a knife crime crime in an attempt to highlight the devastating consequences of carrying a blade.

"As a force, we are making sure that we record crimes when they are reported to us. If someone tells us that they have been the victim of a crime, then we record it as a crime and treat it as a crime," added a spokeswoman for the force.

"We are in the process of introducing neighbourhood policing teams across South Yorkshire as we recognise the need to prevent crime from happening rather than responding to it after the event."

RECORDED CRIME IN SOUTH YORKSHIRE**

Offence // rate per 1,000 population // percentage change from 2015/16 // national rate for England and Wales // percentage change nationally

Total crime: 88.4 // +19 // 74.6 // +11

Violence against the person: 20.6 // +38 // 20.2 // +18

Sexual offences: 2.5 // +17 // 2.1 // +14

Robbery: 1.0 // +38 // 1.0 // +16

Theft:41.8 // +12 // 32.4 // +7

Burglary: 10.6 // +15 // 7.1 // +3

Criminal damage and arson: 13.6 // +6 // 9.7 // +5

Drug offences: 1.7 // -12 // 2.4 // -8

Possession of weapons offences: 0.8 // +45 // 0.5 // +20

Public order offences: 4.6 // +72 // 4.9 // +39

** figures for 2016/17 from the Office for National Statistics