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REVEALED: Nobody brought to justice in about two-thirds of reported crimes in Sheffield

Dr Alan Billings.
Dr Alan Billings.

About two-thirds of reported crimes committed in Sheffield end up with nobody being brought to justice, figures have revealed.

Statistics showed there were 53, 021 offences committed across the city in the year to April 2018 but no further action was taken in 36, 381 of the cases. This means nobody was punished in about 68 per cent of all reported crimes.

Louise Haigh MP.

Louise Haigh MP.

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In addition, no suspect was identified in nearly half of all offences and suspects were sent to prison just 411 times - less than one per cent of all incidents.

About a fifth of all crimes are still under investigation.

South Yorkshire Police defended their record and said there are often complex reasons why an investigation cannot progress beyond a certain point.

Sheffield city centre.

Sheffield city centre.

Louise Haigh, Sheffield Heeley MP and shadow policing minister, blamed the stats on cuts to policing budgets - which has resulted in nearly 300 less police officers patrolling our streets between 2013 and 2017.

She described the figures as "troubling" and added: "It’s the same picture we see across the country, where the impact of police cuts has made the police’s job harder and harder over the last eight years.

“Whether it’s the one in six officers taken off the streets in South Yorkshire, the increased volume of 999 and 101 calls increasing response times, and the one in five detective posts which are currently unfilled nationally, the police are being asked to tackle a rise in violent crime without the resources they need to deal with it.

"The Government has failed to recognise that you can’t protect the public on the cheap.”

The statistics were revealed through the police.uk website – a scheme launched jointly by the Home Office, National Policing Improvement Agency and Ministry of Justice in 2009 - which displays crimes and their outcomes for every neighbourhood in the country.

In addition to the figures mentioned above, the offender was dealt with by police in two per cent of cases, was sent to court on two per cent of occasions and was dealt with at court in four per cent of all reported crimes.

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The city is divided up into four different police areas:- Sheffield Central, Sheffield West, Sheffield North East and Sheffield South East.

Sheffield South East, which includes areas such as Manor, Arbourthorne and Woodthorpe, had the highest number of incidents with 15, 350 reported crimes.

Anti-social behaviour was the most common crime and made up for about 32 per cent of all incidents, violence and sexual offences were second with 18 per cent and then criminal damage and arson accounting for about nine per cent.

No further action was taken in two-thirds of cases, and no suspect was identified in about half of all crimes investigated. About 23 per cent of the offences are still under investigation.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, described how police officers face a complex web of issues when trying to bring charges against a suspect.

He said: "Identifying suspects is often dependent on what evidence is available – which can be DNA, fingerprints, CCTV, witnesses. If there are none of these things detection will not be easy. Police will need to see if some modus operandi can be identified.

"But 13 per cent of cases cannot be prosecuted because the victim will not support the prosecution. There may be a number of reasons for that but one obvious reason is fear of reprisals or intimidation."

He added: "Increase in police numbers is always welcome but just as important is the relationship with the public.

"I would be cautious about simply calling for more money because the Government’s response is likely to be that we can have more money – by putting up council tax.

"This is what they have been doing for some time – cutting Government grants but allowing police and crime commissioners to make up the difference by increasing the precept. So those who call for more funding need to be very clear about where that should come from."

South Yorkshire Police pointed out that due to differences in the way the force records crimes the police.uk website may not display all of the outcomes from incidents.

The force added that there are occasions when suspects cannot be brought to justice such as when an offender dies, prosecution is not in the public interest, the victim or key witnesses die or become ill, the suspect is under age and the victim may not support further action.

Performance and Governance Superintendent Colin Mcfarlane highlighted how the force was rated "good" at preventing, reducing and investigating crime, as well as tackling anti-social behaviour and reducing re-offending, in a recent inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services

He added: "We currently have a number of processes in place to work through the details of reported incidents in order to identify the severity of a crime, the wider risks to our communities and if there active lines of enquiry. This is used to prioritise incidents and the direction of resources needed to protect members of our community and bring offenders responsible to justice."

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"In some instances when an incident is reported there may be not be any viable lines of enquiry. This can be due to a lack of forensic, DNA, witnesses or CCTV opportunities. In these cases, the identify of a suspect may not be possible; non-the-less if further evidence becomes available, or if potential links to other crimes are identified, these are fully investigated.

“In some reports this can lead to suspects not being identified, however this trend is consistent with forces across the country.

“Last year we also introduced a neighbourhood policing model, which sees high visibility officers working to directly prevent and tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in our local communities.

"Detectives working in the criminal investigations department and protecting vulnerable people function have also recently returned to the districts of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley, and Doncaster to enable closer working with our neighbourhood policing teams and strengthen service to our communities."

Figures according to the police.uk website

Sheffield - May 2017 to April 2018

Total number of crimes – 53, 021

No further action – 36, 381

Under investigation – 12, 178

Offender dealt with by police – 1137

Offender sent to court – 1114

Offender dealt with at court – 2211

Offender sent to prison – 411

No suspect identified – 26, 410