Fifth of crimes not investigated

Worksop.'Guardian Car Crime Crackdown.
Worksop.'Guardian Car Crime Crackdown.

SOUTH Yorkshire Police wrote off almost a fifth of all crimes reported to them last year, figures obtained by The Star reveal.

But the figure is lower than four years ago – when officers decided against investigating more than a third of offences.

Figures obtained by The Star under the Freedom of Information Act reveal out of 103,818 crimes reported in the county in 2010, some 19,871 were ‘screened’.

That means officers decided there was not enough to proceed with an investigation.

It compares to 56,998 crimes being screened in 2006, out of 160,061.

In Doncaster, 24 per cent were written off, with 6,388 of 26,650 screened. It compared with 11,428 screened out of 41,928, which represented 27 per cent.

In Sheffield, 3,913 were screened out of 43,797 last year compared to 28,583 out of 67,015 in 2006.

Barnsley saw 1,632 screened out of 15,696 in 2010, compared to 6,256 out of 23,065 in 2006.

And in Rotherham 7,938 were screened out of 17,675. The 2006 figure was 10,731 out of 28,053.

In Doncaster, the largest portion was for theft or unauthorised taking, with 1,466.

Theft from vehicles made up 1,166.

Sheffield saw the largest proportion of its total as damage to vehicles, with 778 discarded, ahead of 643 for theft or unauthorised taking.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Foster, of Doncaster CID, said: “When a crime is reported, it goes into the crime recording bureau.

“They look for investigation opportunities, such as DNA, instrument marks, and a whole host of other possible evidence, whether suspects or a vehicle have been seen, or if there is any CCTV.

“It goes to a crime management unit which looks at what investigation should take place and who it should go to.

“There is a certain percentage where there are limited investigation opportunities to take that forward. We speak to the complainant by letter or phone to tell them there is no investigation opportunity we’re in a position to follow.

“They are not just routinely screened. It is when there is nothing to go on that crimes are screened. But some complainants don’t know their property details. If we got more information we would reactivate it, and it does follow a full process. We never screen serious assaults.

“We have to be realistic about what we can achieve.”

Urging the public to securely mark their property so they can be reunited with their belongings if they are stolen and later traced, DCI Foster said: “A lot of the problem is often down to people not knowing the details of their property.

“We urge the public to know details like serial numbers on bikes, and put their postcodes on possessions with a marker pen.

“People should record serial numbers and model numbers.

“If a red mountain bike gets stolen and is not identifiable, it will probably get screened.”

He said crimes were not screened if there had been a spate of similar incidents in an area.

He said that it was always worth recording crime to make sure police had an accurate picture to decide where to put resources.