YP Comment: Force’s failings are inexcusable. South Yorkshire Police too busy to investigate crime

New recruits at South Yorkshire Police say they don't have enough time to investigate crimes.
New recruits at South Yorkshire Police say they don't have enough time to investigate crimes.
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THAT NEWLY-QUALIFIED police officers are reluctant to record incident as crimes because of their heavy workloads, and problems with IT systems, does not reflect well on policing.

That the recruits concerned are from South Yorkshire, the most tainted force in the country following a succession of national scandals, makes such dereliction of duty even more inexcusable.

Of course, the context is critical. These are not negligent officers turning a blind eye to criminals. As documents obtained by The Yorkshire Post confirm, those concerned have “a very strong public service ethic” and a desire to assist vulnerable people.

This is heartening. It will take time for South Yorkshire Police to restore its reputation and this next generation of officers, whose reputations are not sullied by past controversies that took place before they were born, are critical to regaining the public’s confidence.

Yet, without strong leadership and the necessary resources, they will struggle to provide the level of professionalism that the law-abiding public expect of them. Damaging reports such as this, and the mere suggestion that crimes, however minor, are not being investigated, fails to inspire confidence and make a mockery of official police statistics which point to a fall in crime. Until the force gets its own management in order, South Yorkshire Police is not in a position to expect, even demand, additional financial resources from the Home Office.

Though cuts in police numbers since 2010 have become a legitimate election issue, not least because of the national unease following the terrorist atrocity in Manchester last month and Theresa May’s six-year stint as Home Secretary, Cabinet ministers can’t be expected to micro-manage every police force or every cohort of newly-qualified officers as they’re integrated into the policing profession.

This is what police chiefs, and crime commissioners like South Yorkshire’s Dr Alan Billings, are expected to do. The time for excuses is over – it’s time they showed the professionalism that the public, and serving police officers, should have the right to expect as routine.

Turning Tory tide: May visit’s statement of intent

THAT Theresa May spent part of yesterday campaigning in Labour’s South Yorkshire heartlands, prior to last night’s pre-election Question Time special in York, did not point to a Prime Minister on the defensive because of faltering poll ratings.

Quite the opposite. The Tories have not had a single MP in this part of the region since Irvine Patnick, who earned such notoriety over the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster, was defeated in Sheffield Hallam 25 years ago.

And, irrespective of the final outcome next Thursday, it will fall to the Prime Minister – which is still likely to be Mrs May – to represent the whole country, including those areas still recovering from the collapse of traditional manufacturing industries when Margaret Thatcher was in power.

South Yorkshire is a case in point. Even though levels of deprivation meant it qualified for EU regeneration subsidies, the area backed Brexit – the issue that Mrs May had intended to define the election.

Yet, while there’s a belief that Labour has been guilty of taking voters for granted, the litmus test of the credentials of the Conservatives – a word that the Prime Minister has barely uttered since going to the country – is whether it can turn the electoral tide here. As such, this one visit to a previous ‘no-go’ area can certainly be regarded as a statement of intent.

Line of beauty

BY rights it should have been consigned to history in the 1960s. When Dr Beeching’s axe fell on Britain’s rail network, the line which ran from Malton to Whitby was one of those deemed uneconomic.

However, while the powers that be were not convinced of its future, the people of Pickering and the surrounding area thought otherwise.

Fifty years ago this month, a group of community-minded souls got together to keep the line open. They were convinced that the track, which runs through stunning National Park scenery, was not only viable, but essential and could be a major magnet for tourism.

How right they were. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway is not only a lifeline for many of those who live in remote villages like Grosmont and Goathland, but each year it contributes an estimated £30m to the local economy.

It’s also proof, as if it were needed, that the Government doesn’t always know best.