Armed police called to record number of incidents in South Yorkshire
Armed police officers were deployed more times in South Yorkshire last year than at any other time in the last decade, new figures reveal.
Nationally, an 'explosion in violent crime' combined with the threat of terrorism has left officers routinely 'fearing the worst', according to the Police Federation of England and Wales.
APPEAL: Heartbroken Doncaster family desperate to find puppy stolen by man in vanThis has led to them routinely calling for armed assistance when faced with incidents.
The latest Home Office figures show that South Yorkshire Police conducted 742 armed police operations in the 12 months to March 2018 - up from the previous year, when armed officers attended 674 incidents.
POLICE: South Yorkshire football fans urged to help in fight against terrorismOver the last 10 years, when records began, the number of deployments has risen by 38 per cent.
GRAPHIC CONTENT: Family ducks killed in Sheffield suburbThe number of armed police officers has also increased, rising from 98 in 2017 to 115 as of the end of March this year.
According to the National Police Chiefs Council, recruitment drives for armed counter-terrorism officers have been ongoing in the areas of England and Wales most at risk from terrorism.
However, many forces have struggled to recruit the numbers they need.
Across England and Wales, the number of armed police operations in the year to March reached 18,746 - the highest number since 2010-11.
Ché Donald, Vice Chair and Firearms Lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "There has been an explosion in violent crime over the past year, with knife crime up by 16 per cent, murders by 12 per cent and gun crime by two per cent.
"In this current climate, if officers are called to a violent incident the preferred option is to deploy properly-trained firearms officers to contain the situation.
"All this is set against a backdrop of increased awareness because of recent terrorist events, such as the London Bridge attack and Manchester Arena, which fall into the timescale of this report.
"As a result, there has also been a heightened presence of firearms officers at events and public gatherings around the country to ensure people are kept safe."
The Home Office said that the Government is providing £144 million to increase the number of armed police officers on the streets.