Police warn of rise in crime as budget cuts bite

Senior police officers are warning that despite reductions in crime during the last year the next 12 months could see an increase in offences as the current economic climate makes it difficult to improve performance. Picture: Simon Hulme.
Senior police officers are warning that despite reductions in crime during the last year the next 12 months could see an increase in offences as the current economic climate makes it difficult to improve performance. Picture: Simon Hulme.
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Yorkshire’s police forces were called to investigate more than 400,000 crimes last year, and chief officers have warned the figure may rise as savage cuts in Government spending start to bite.

The number of offences fell by nine per cent across the region in 2010, with fewer reports of violence, burglary, car crime and criminal damage.

Forces also recorded a five per cent drop in drug offences, while cases of fraud and forgery fell by 17 per cent compared with the previous 12 months.

But the number of sexual offences reported has continued to rise. Police said this was because investigations of historic abuse had improved, giving more victims the confidence to come forward.

The statistics were published at the same time as the British Crime Survey, which indicated the number of crimes reported across the country fell by three per cent from 9.8 million to 9.5 million.

South Yorkshire Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes welcomed the news that crime fell by 12 per cent in his force area, but he warned that increases in some types of crime could be expected in the months ahead.

“While already preparing for the financial challenges ahead, crime has significantly fallen for the fourth year in a row,” he said. “This is great news for South Yorkshire and testament to the hard work of the men and women of the county’s force who will continue to fight crime, patrol the streets and protect the public.

“Sustaining this will be challenging with South Yorkshire Police set to lose £40m over the next four years, especially as partners’ budgets are also being reduced.

“We are likely to see a rise in some crime categories but our job is to keep crime down and we are committed to achieving that.

“Tackling serious acquisitive crime – vehicle crime, burglary, robbery – is one of our main aims and we want people to work with us.

“Further improving performance in the current economic climate will be difficult but we are determined to deliver a high standard of policing for the communities of South Yorkshire.”

South Yorkshire saw an eight per cent rise in reports of theft and handling stolen goods, which the force blamed on growing bands of metal thieves.

“There has been an increase in the price of metal, making it a more valuable commodity to would-be thieves,” Mr Hughes said. “This crime directly affects the lives of people across the county, for example, the theft of communications cables, lead from house roofs, manhole covers from the streets.

“During the last few years we have carried out operations targeting scrap metal dealers and reminding them of their responsibilities.

“We’ve also been working with British Transport Police, utility companies and other regional forces to tackle the issue of metal thefts and work will continue while this problem exists.”

North Yorkshire Police saw crime fall by seven per cent overall, although the number of robberies rose by 10 per cent to 223.

House burglaries were down 10 per cent, criminal damage fell by 20 per cent, and violent crime was reduced by one per cent.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Sue Cross said: “As an organisation that prides itself on year-on-year crime reductions, we are very pleased to report that crime has fallen by 7.3 per cent during this period.

“To put it into context, this is 3,255 less crimes and the misery that goes with it.

“However, we will never become complacent and I can assure residents that robust action plans are in place to nip the rises that have occurred in the last month or so in the bud.”

Humberside Police recorded an 11 per cent drop in crime, including a 16 per cent decline in violent offences.

However, Deputy Chief Constable David Griffin went on to warn that more difficult times lay ahead.

“It is pleasing as ever to see that crime has continued to fall across the force as a whole,” he said. “However, as everyone is acutely aware, the coming few years are going to be a real challenge with tightening budgets and falling police officer numbers.

“We will continue to strive to protect the communities we serve but the task is certain to become increasingly difficult.”

Crime fell by seven per cent overall in West Yorkshire. House burglaries fell by six per cent.

Deputy Chief Constable David Crompton said: “It’s good to see that the hard work ongoing to reduce burglary is paying off with over 1,000 fewer victims reported, and that the dedicated work undertaken to tackle domestic violence is having a positive affect. We can’t just sit back though and hope this positive trend continues.”