Meadowhall's crime rate released for the first time

A police officer and security officer at Meadowhall
A police officer and security officer at Meadowhall

Thefts, drug offences and assaults were among 138 crimes recorded in and around Meadowhall last year - one offence for every 173,000 visitors to the shopping centre.

Details of the offences, committed between January and the end of November, were disclosed by South Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act.

Meadowhall has its own dedicated police team

Meadowhall has its own dedicated police team

The force revealed that theft was the most common offence, with 75 incidents logged at the popular shopping centre, last year.

There were 24 physical assaults recorded, 11 cases of criminal damage to vehicles, eight public order incidents and two cases where drugs were found.

Knives were found on visitors to the centre twice last year, according to the police log.

The other 20 crimes included two car thefts, handling stolen goods, harrassment, the theft of a bike, going equipped to commit crime and an allegation of sexual activity with a child, for which the suspect was found not guilty at court.

Meadowhall's operations director, Dawn Osborne

Meadowhall's operations director, Dawn Osborne

Meadowhall, which opened in September 1990, is the UK's eighth largest indoor shopping centre and attracts £24 million visitors a year.

Meadowhall's operations director, Dawn Osborne, said policing the shopping centre is akin to policing a small town and the crime rate is remarkably low for such huge numbers of visitors every day.

"Meadowhall is just like a small town, where we can have anything from 60,000 to 130,000 visitors a day, so policing and security is absolutely key and something we take incredibly seriously," she said.

"We want people to have an enjoyable experience, so although the atmosphere is relaxed for visitors, behind the scenes there is an incredible amount of hard work going on to keep people safe."

She said state of the art CCTV and communication systems are in place to keep one step ahead of criminals and for police and security officers to monitor the centre 24 hours a day.

The centre has its own dedicated police team, and officers, working alongside Meadowhall security staff, also work with retailers to identify potential offenders and crime trends.

But Ms Osborne said shoppers also play a part in keeping crime low by reporting suspicious behaviour.

"Local people and communities feel a real sense of pride in Meadowhall and are protective of it and if they feel that something is not quite right they tell us. There is definitely a real partnership approach to this, with everyone playing their part," she added.

Police and security staff at Meadowhall receive a daily briefing on missing people to be on the lookout for and found an eight-year-old girl at the centre in November after she went missing from home.

Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "We have a dedicated team of officers at Meadowhall who work alongside specialist trained armed officers, to respond to incidents and conduct high visibility patrols.

"Incidents at Meadowhall, like all reports of crime, are taken extremely seriously by police and will be fully investigated by our team to identify the offenders responsible and bring them to justice. This work has seen over 100 arrests made by the team for a variety of offences committed between January and November last year.

"These results highlight the proactive action taken in response to reported incidents and commitments of the team to tackle crime committed at Meadowhall.

"As well as responding to incidents the officers also work alongside Meadowhall security staff to complete training exercises, raise awareness and identify effective crime prevention measures that can be put in place to address and further reduce crime.

"The team along with our partners at Meadowhall are committed to ensuring the safety and security of everyone there, and will continue to work to take action against anyone committing crime."