Latest Doncaster crime figures reveal increase in arson, vandalism and robbery

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue tackle a blaze in Doncaster
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue tackle a blaze in Doncaster

Arson, vandalism and robbery are all up as Doncaster’s rising crime figures are revealed this week.

Crime in the borough is up on the previous year, with residents calling in 25,143 incidents to police in 2015, according to figures shown to Doncaster Councillors this week.

South Yorkshire Police Stock Image

South Yorkshire Police Stock Image

In 2014, there were 23,438 crimes called into police - a rise of seven per cent.

There were notable increases in arson attacks, robberies, sexual assaults and criminal damage.

But there was some good news with reports of burglary, metal theft, hate crime and child sexual exploitation all falling.

By comparison, the number of crimes in South Yorkshire has risen by six per cent.

In 2014, South Yorkshire Police received 93,572 reports of crime compared to 98,945 in 2015.

Arson attacks in Doncaster was highlighted as an area of concern. There were 938 reported incidents of deliberate fires in 2015 compared to 760 in 2014 – a 19 per cent increase.

Bill Hotchkiss, head of service community safety at Doncaster Council, said the trend was on the up after years of decline.

He said: “Over the last few years there has been a decrease in arson but, for reasons unknown, it has picked up again.

Metal theft in Doncaster has fallen sharply

Metal theft in Doncaster has fallen sharply

“We’re working closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and they are looking into this.

“With this sudden rise you need to look at the source and tackle the issue head on.

“I must stress that this is not just Doncaster but across South Yorkshire as a whole.”

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said the figures were worrying but added fire-related crimes in Doncaster are down nearly 50 per cent in the last 10 years.

South Yorkshire Police Stock Image

South Yorkshire Police Stock Image

Primary arson – a more serious crime affecting homes, cars and businesses – is up 36 per cent.

Secondary arson – such as wheelie bin blazes and grass fires – has risen by 20 per cent.

The newly published figures were scrutinised by Doncaster councillors on Monday.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “Deliberate fires have halved in Doncaster over the last ten years, but our work to reduce arson continues.

“This includes our education work in schools, putting on diversionary activities for young people and working with our partners at the police to reduce anti-social behaviour. Starting fires is reckless and costs lives. Even small fires like bin and grass fires can quickly spread, putting people and property at risk. In recent, high-profile, national cases, arson attacks on homes have resulted in murder convictions and substantial prison sentences.

“The maximum sentence for arson is life in prison and we’d encourage members of the public who know of people starting fires in their area to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

A community and environment overview scrutiny meeting also heard about a spate of lorry robberies in the run up to Christmas last year.

Robbery incidents in the town jumped by 23 per cent from 2014 and Mr Hotchkiss stated that the lorries being targeted in November and December was a reason for that increase.

There were notable decreases in reports of child sexual exploitation in Doncaster – the figure was down 51 per cent from 2014.

Metal theft in Doncaster was also down 44 per cent. There were 268 reports to police in 2015.

Anti-social behaviour also fell by two per cent - one of Doncaster Council’s main priorities.

The meeting also heard that the town has lost nearly a quarter of its Police Community Support Officers.

At the start of 2015, the town had 66 PCSOs - this has been reduced to 49.

Insp Neil Thompson of South Yorkshire Police said he was confident that the hard work that PCSOs deliver will not be affected.

He said: “When I started to organise the local policing teams in Doncaster, this was one area I was keen to protect the best I could.

“We will now deploy PCSOs on a intelligence led basis and will be mostly based in the areas that need it most. It’s about striking that balance and I’m confident the great work PCSOs do on the ground will not be affected.”