Criminals watch out - detectives are back in Doncaster

Det Ch Insp Paul Wilson, outside Doncaster Police Station
Det Ch Insp Paul Wilson, outside Doncaster Police Station

Criminals had better watch out - detectives are back in Doncaster and they have their eyes set squarely on organised crime.

A major re-organisation of how detectives operate across South Yorkshire has brought the return to a Criminal Investigation Department to Doncaster.

It follows a move away from teams being based in towns in recent years and instead put into specialist units.

But since April, the borough has seen its own dedicated team of detectives based at Doncaster Police Station at College Road, headed by Det Ch Insp Paul Wilson and Det Ch Insp Jo Bates. Det Ch Insp Bates is heading up a team dedicated to protecting vulnerable people. That will include areas such as domestic violence and child sexual exploitation.

The re-organisation follows a force-wide crime review, which has seen some of the specialist teams dissolved, with officers returned to the individual police districts.

In Doncaster it has seen the establishment of a tasking team - the tough face of the department who go out on raids to carry out magistrates court warrants. Along side them are proactive detectives who work to stop crimes from taking place, and a re-active team who will head out to the scenes of crimes such as burglaries, robberies and sexual assaults.

Det Ch Insp Wilson is keen to drive crime down and thinks his team are on the right track.

An experienced detective who has in the past worked in regional crime squads, he believes the effects of the changes in Doncaster are already being seen.

Since January, there have been 65 search warrants carried out in the borough, with drugs and firearms among the items seized. That was after early measures had been put in place to bring about the current arrangement

Last week, that included a sawn off shotgun and 1kg of or heroin seized from the White Towers travellers site near Armthorpe.

He said: "Issues over a gang in Mexborough have been widely reported, but organised crime is not just in Mexborough. There are a number of organised crime groups, and we are aware of them.

"But the number of groups is coming down from what it was 12 months ago. There are fewer organised crime groups than there were a year ago, although there are still a number operating in the borough. It is not an issue unique to Doncaster, and it is a priority across the force.

"Through an increased proactive CID capability, we are proactively targeting these groups to reduce their capability. The number of gangs has fallen because we have closed some down by arresting key figures."

The number of gang members who have been put in prison causes issues of its own, and police have just created a prisons partnership board with the jails and increased the level of support offered to the prisons.

They will be working together to keep contraband such as drugs and mobile phones out and prosecute those who try to smuggle items into the jails.

The re-organisation gives local commanders more control of the detectives. Before the re-organisation, The team was not based in Doncaster and was shared with Barnsley.

Now there are detectives specifically dedicated to Doncaster, with less travel time to get to incidents.

Murders will still be dealt with by a central major crime unit, which is based centrally for the whole South Yorkshire force.

"The biggest challenge for our team will be removing the capability of organised crime groups to operate, and managing the demand with the prison estates.

"We are confident that we can get there in terms of the organised crime gangs. We're committed to it and we've had considerable success in the last six months."

He is also optimistic over other crimes. The forces own crime graphs show residential and commercial burglaries lower in the first six months of this year compared to the same period in 2017.

It is a similar picture for robbery.

"I think it is because we've increased the proactive element," he said.

"If we can sent the tasking team out to arrest a suspect quickly, we will. "Early action can help prevent crime.

"I think we have to treat crime as though it was personal. People do their best if they think about the family and friends that are affected."