REVEALED: Nobody brought to justice in about two-thirds of reported crimes in Doncaster

Louise Haigh MP.
Louise Haigh MP.

About two-thirds of reported crimes committed in Doncaster end up with nobody being brought to justice, figures have revealed.

Statistics show there were 35, 277 offences committed across the town in the year to April 2018 but no further action was taken in 23, 276 of the cases. This means nobody was punished in about 65 per cent of all reported crimes.

Dr Alan Billings.

Dr Alan Billings.

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In addition, no suspect was identified in about 42 per cent of cases and offenders were sent to prison just 434 times - just over one per cent of all reported crimes.

About a quarter of all crimes are still under investigation.

South Yorkshire Police defended their record and said there are often complex reasons why an investigation cannot progress beyond a certain point.

Doncaster town centre.

Doncaster town centre.

Louise Haigh, Sheffield Heeley MP and shadow policing minister, blamed the stats on cuts to policing budgets - which has resulted in nearly 300 less police officers patrolling our streets between 2013 and 2017.

She described the figures as "troubling" and added: "It’s the same picture we see across the country, where the impact of police cuts has made the police’s job harder and harder over the last eight years.

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“Whether it’s the one in six officers taken off the streets in South Yorkshire, the increased volume of 999 and 101 calls increasing response times, and the one in five detective posts which are currently unfilled nationally, the police are being asked to tackle a rise in violent crime without the resources they need to deal with it.

"The Government has failed to recognise that you can’t protect the public on the cheap.”

The statistics were revealed through the website – a scheme launched jointly by the Home Office, National Policing Improvement Agency and Ministry of Justice in 2009 - which displays crimes and their outcomes for every neighbourhood in the country.

In addition to the figures mentioned above, the offender was dealt with by police in about two per cent of cases, a suspect was sent to court on two per cent of occasions and was dealt with at court in five per cent of all reported crimes.

The town is divided up into three different police areas:- central, east and west.

Doncaster Central, which includes the town centre, Hexthorpe and Balby, was the most crime hit area with 13, 780 incidents.

Anti-social behaviour was the most common crime and made up for about a quarter of all incidents, violence and sexual offences was second with 22 per cent and criminal damage third with eight per cent.

No further action was taken in 61 per cent of cases, and no suspect identified in 39 per cent of incidents. About a quarter are still under investigation.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, described how police officers face a complex web of issues when trying to bring charges against a suspect.

He said: "Identifying suspects is often dependent on what evidence is available – which can be DNA, fingerprints, CCTV, witnesses. If there are none of these things detection will not be easy. Police will need to see if some modus operandi can be identified.

"But 13 per cent of cases cannot be prosecuted because the victim will not support the prosecution. There may be a number of reasons for that but one obvious reason is fear of reprisals or intimidation."

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He added: "Increase in police numbers is always welcome but just as important is the relationship with the public.

"I would be cautious about simply calling for more money because the Government’s response is likely to be that we can have more money – by putting up council tax.

"This is what they have been doing for some time – cutting Government grants but allowing police and crime commissioners to make up the difference by increasing the precept. So those who call for more funding need to be very clear about where that should come from."

South Yorkshire Police pointed out that due to differences in the way the force records crimes the website may not display all of the outcomes from incidents.

The force added that there are occasions when suspects cannot be brought to justice such as when an offender dies, prosecution is not in the public interest, the victim or key witnesses die or become ill, the suspect under age and the victim not supporting further action.

Performance and Governance Superintendent Colin Mcfarlane highlighted how the force was rated "good" at preventing, reducing and investigating crime, as well as tackling anti-social behaviour and reducing re-offending, in a recent inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services

He added: "We currently have a number of processes in place to work through the details of reported incidents in order to identify the severity of a crime, the wider risks to our communities and if there active lines of enquiry. This is used to prioritise incidents and the direction of resources needed to protect members of our community and bring offenders responsible to justice."

"In some instances when an incident is reported there may be not be any viable lines of enquiry. This can be due to a lack of forensic, DNA, witnesses or CCTV opportunities. In these cases, the identify of a suspect may not be possible; non-the-less if further evidence becomes available, or if potential links to other crimes are identified, these are fully investigated.

“In some reports this can lead to suspects not being identified, however this trend is consistent with forces across the country.

“Last year we also introduced a neighbourhood policing model, which sees high visibility officers working to directly prevent and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in our local communities.

"Detectives working in the criminal investigations department and protecting vulnerable people function have also recently returned to the districts of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, and Doncaster to enable closer working with our neighbourhood policing teams and strengthen service to our communities."

Figures according to the website

Doncaster - May 2017 to April 2018

Total number of crimes – 35, 277

No further action – 23, 276

Under investigation – 8678

Offender dealt with by police – 746

Offender sent to court – 793

Offender dealt with at court – 1784

Offender sent to prison – 434

No suspect identified – 14, 888