TV puts spotlight on South Yorkshire force’s struggle with cuts

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STRAINS ON South Yorkshire’s police force will be laid bare in a new television documentary examining the impact of funding cuts.

Candid interviews with officers struggling to cope with an increased workload form the bulk of the two-part series, in which Inspector Simon Leake predicts a ‘bleak future’ for policing in the region.

In the first episode, due to be broadcast on BBC Two on Tuesday, cameras follow a depleted force as it responds to mounting tensions between existing white and Asian communities and newly-arrived Roma migrants from Eastern Europe.

Filmed last summer, scenes show neighbourhood policemen and women struggling to cope with civil unrest and disorder on the streets, with senior officers failing to meet targets on incidents of anti-social behaviour on a daily basis.

The film captures the difficult balancing act police face in the wake of cuts to the frontline. When resources were ploughed in to Page Hall, problems with anti-social behaviour increased in nearby Parson Cross.

During one incident captured on TV cameras, officers are abused and threatened by a gang of youths, while one officer suffers a bloody nose after arresting a young man.

Pc Christine Fisher, a bobby on the beat in Parson Cross for five years, said: “That escalated because... we’ve been tasked elsewhere and they’ve been left to run riot.”

South Yorkshire Police said it has since removed the dispersal order.

Superintendent Shaun Morley said: “At the time of the filming, this was an emerging situation.

“We evaluated the situation over the summer and found the dispersal order was not tacking the underlying issues in Page Hall so it is no longer in place.

“We now have a dedicated policing team in the area made up of nine officers. They are building up a good rapport in the community and a broad understanding of the issues.

Later in the programme officers are shown dealing with a protest from the far-right English Defence League in the deprived east of Sheffield last September.

Heavy police presence meant officers were able to prevent the EDL from forcing their way over to a counter-protest from Asian communities, but it came at a cost of £500,000 to the South Yorkshire Police budget.

Assistant Chief Constable Max Sahota said: “You can never be sure how many people to expect. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

The second episode, which hits the screens on Tuesday July 1, reveals how Parson Cross and Shiregreen are generating much higher levels of vehicle crime and burglary than elsewhere.