Homicide rate in South Yorkshire at its highest in 'more than a decade', research reveals

The number of homicides recorded by South Yorkshire Police this year is the highest it has been in more than 10 years, research has revealed.

The force launched 25 murder or manslaughter investigations in 2020, according to BBC research, the most since 2007 when there were 27 homicides.

Of these, 15 were male victims and 10 were female. Nearly half (11) of all homicides were in Sheffield, while eight were in Doncaster and six in Barnsley.

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There were no reported homicides in Rotherham.

Seven out of 25 homicides in South Yorkshire this year involved knives, research has found

Among those include seven fatal stabbings - of which five were young male victims stabbed to death in Sheffield.

Under-35s were far more likely to be homicide victims, with seven victims aged between 25 and 34.

South Yorkshire Police has said it has brought charges in all but two of the homicide cases from this year.

Among them was the murder of 32-year-old NHS worker Victoria Woodhall, who was stabbed to death in front of horrified neighbours in March by abusive estranged husband, Craig Woodhall.

Victoria Woodhall was murdered by estranged husband Craig Woodhall in Barnsley in March. Picture issued by South Yorkshire Police

Former soldier Woodhall, 41, was jailed for a minimum of 18 years and six months at Sheffield Crown Court in October, in which it was heard he had followed his attack by telling neighbours "she deserved it".

Mother-of-three Ms Woodhall was working as a nurse at Rotherham General Hospital at the time of her murder and had been due to start work in the intensive care unit caring for Covid-19 patients.

Knife crime and violence has continued to be an issue this year, albeit lower figures due to the coronavirus lockdowns.

The youngest victim killed in a knife attack was 18-year-old Isaiah Usen-Satchell, who died on New Year's Day following an attack at St Aidan's Road, Sheffield.

South Yorkshire Police officers in Sheffield

Two men, 19-year-old twin brothers Isaac and Jacob Mwanza, of Rother View Road, Rotherham, stood trial accused of Mr Usen-Satchell's murder but were cleared under the directions of the judge due to insufficient evidence.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post earlier this year, youth worker Hanif Mohammed who oversees Sheffield's In2Change service supporting young people in deprived areas, said carrying knives had become a way of life for many young people.

“It’s not comprehensible for most people why a child would carry a knife," he said.

“But put yourself in the position of a child where your father is in prison, you’re being bullied at school, your mother is on Universal Credit and you’re living in an area where violence occurs everyday."

South Yorkshire's Home Office-funded Violence Reduction Unit recently received confirmation of further funding to research and combat the long-term causes of violence, such as deprivation, education and growing up with domestic violence.

Detective Superintendent Ian Scott, of South Yorkshire Police, told the BBC: "We understand how utterly tragic and destructive these crimes can be, both for families and for communities as a whole.

"Tackling violent crime is, and always will be, a top priority for us as a force and we will always seek justice for victims of crime and their loved ones.

"We have secured charges or convictions in all but two of the confirmed homicides, and extensive inquiries continue into the investigations which are ongoing."

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