Police have registered sharp increases in knife and gun crime across the country, amid mounting concern over spiralling levels of violence.
South Yorkshire, which has been plagued by criminal gangs in recent months, saw violent crime increase by 57 per cent last year, the second-highest rise in England and Wales after Durham.
South Yorkshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Tim Forber said the force was committed to tackling crime but recognised there was “still work to do in ensuring the county is a safer place”.
He said: “We know that knife crime, and other types of armed criminality, are of particular concern to members of the community and I’d like to stress that these issues are an absolute priority for the force.
“We have a number of dedicated operations, campaigns and partner agency work ongoing to tackle these crimes and make it clear that carrying a weapon on the streets of South Yorkshire will not be tolerated.”
The force recently made a U-turn on a decision to scrap its neighbourhood officers, with chiefs saying that they had lost a vital source of grassroots intelligence.
While that decision was not prompted by rising crime levels, police commissioner Alan Billings said, it now made it look all the more timely.
He said: “We have returned to neighbourhood policing but there is no increase in the number of officers, so the officers are having to come from somewhere.”
He said the number of officers had declined by 15 per cent since 2010, with the loss of about 500 officers.
There were more than 150,000 violent crimes across Yorkshire last year, a rise of 29 per cent compared to the national 21 per cent rise.
The number of recorded robberies, sexual offences and people found in possession of weapons also saw large hikes.
In West Yorkshire, where violent crime has risen by 24 per cent in the past year, Deputy Chief Constable John Robins said it was partly down to better reporting.
He said: “However it should be recognised that we are policing in an extremely challenging and complex environment, with finite resources.
"And of those resources, we are having to dedicate more of them to safeguarding, cyber-crime and organised crime, in roles that are not always visible on the streets of West Yorkshire.
"We are also experiencing extra demand due to the increased calls for service from people requiring our help and attending incidents involving vulnerable people.
“It is clear that crime and demand have been steadily increasing at a time that both our workforce and financial resources have been reducing.”
Humberside Police saw violent crime increase by 21 per cent.
But Deputy Chief Constable Chris Rowley said he was pleased to see its burglary rates had fallen, bucking the national trend.
North Yorkshire retained its title as the country’s safest force area, with the lowest number of overall crimes per head, despite an overall five per cent increase in recorded crime. Its police commissioner, Julia Mulligan, said this was “heartening to see”.