South Yorkshire sees second highest increase in overall crime figures in the country

VIOLENT crime has soared in South Yorkshire by a staggering 62 per cent in the last year, the highest rise in the country, according to new figures.

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Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed South Yorkshire recorded 36,121 offences of violent crime for the year ending September 2017.

The force also saw a 46 per cent increase in robbery and a 58 per cent rise in domestic burglary - with an overall 34 per cent rise in the total number of crimes, excluding fraud, which was second from highest in the country.

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Humberside Police also saw a 16 per cent rise in the overall crime figures, including a 30 per cent in violent crime. Meanwhile West Yorkshire saw a 15 per cent increase in overall crime, with a 26 per cent rise in violent crime.

North Yorkshire fared the best of the four, with a just one per cent increase overall and an eight per cent rise in violent crime.

Despite the apparent surge in crime, the ONS urged caution when interpreting the figures, noting that its preferred measure - the Crime Survey for England and Wales - showed a 10 per cent fall.

The ONS said police can only record crimes that are brought to their attention and for many types of offence the data cannot provide a reliable measure of levels or trends. But while experts attribute much of the rise to changes in recording and improvements in victims’ confidence, there is also evidence that increases in some categories are “genuine”.

They include some of the “low incidence but more harmful” categories such as knife crime (up 21 per cent) and gun crime, up a fifth.

Labour accused the Tories of “failing in a basic duty to protect the public”.

Shadow policing minister, Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said: “The truth is, the public are now being forced to pay the price for the reckless risk the Tories took with public safety when they slashed 20,000 officers.

“Police numbers are at historic lows, crime is soaring and more and more criminals are walking free.”

West Yorkshire Police’s overall figures of 14.9 per cent, were slightly lower than the national average of 15.3 per cent.

The force blamed much of the rise on continued improvements in recording practices, claiming under five per cent related to an actual increase in being the victim of crime.

West Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said: “Our police officers and staff have worked really hard to continue to deliver a quality service in our local communities to reduce crime.

“They have done this at a time when there are less officers and staff than there used to be and at a time when the demands placed upon them every day have increased.”

Humberside Police also put the overall increase in reported crime down to improvements in the way crime is recorded, but also said a decrease in burglaries and drug offences “shows that the work we are doing to prevent these offences from taking place is having an effect.”

Alex Mayes, of charity Victim Support, said: “Knife crime wrecks lives and shatters communities, and these figures are alarming.”

Policing Minister Nick Hurd said the ONS “is clear that overall traditional crime is continuing to fall, and is now down by almost 40 pe cent since 2010”.

But he acknowledged that “some of the increase in police-recorded violent offences is genuine”.

Bill Skelly, the national policing lead for crime recording and statistics, said: “Today’s police officers are dealing with more complex crime, more safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people and an unprecedented terror threat, as well as tackling some of the genuine rises in knife and gun crime, robbery, burglary and vehicle-related crime - crimes which turn the trend on many years of reductions.”

No one was available for comment from South Yorkshire Police.