Sheffield & South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Police chief warns of crime rise

Meredydd Hughes
Image caption Meredydd Hughes has warned of rising crime and fewer officers

The chief constable of South Yorkshire has said the region will experience a rise in crime due to budget cuts.

Meredydd Hughes has told his police authority the spending reduction will affect every area of his force.

In a report he warned that a shrinking force and cuts in council services would have an impact.

Ministers have given assurances that neighbourhood policing and responding to emergencies will remain immune from the cuts.

Home Secretary Theresa May has previously told the Association of Chief Police Officers they must use budgets in the most useful way.

She has said: "Front-line availability should increase even as budgets contract," pledging to be "ruthless" on waste.

But the chief constable claims there will be fewer units to tackle serious and organised crime and that support staff cuts will saddle officers with an "increased burden" and detract from front-line duties.

'Unrealistic in the longer term'

In his report, Mr Hughes said government expectations of improving performance were "challenging if not unrealistic in the longer term".

And he said the negative impact on performance as a result of changes within the service and altering social factors as budget cuts bite and unemployment figures rise would be felt in years to come.

The document, to be considered by the police authority at a meeting on 8 April, contains a number of warnings.

It states: "The government has announced changes to the benefits system.

"This may well put pressure on some individuals to consider committing acquisitive crime in order to mitigate the impact of reductions in their income.

"There is to be a reduction in the number of prison places and this may result in some prolific offenders living within our communities as opposed to serving time within a custodial facility."

'More unemployment'

Mr Hughes said job losses in the wider community and fewer officers were a difficult combination.

He adds: "We can anticipate an increase in unemployment.

"This will bring additional pressures on some individuals to commit crime in order to continue to enjoy the same or a similar standard of living.

"All this takes place against the backdrop of fewer police officers and police staff able to provide support to communities."

The chief constable's report also said demands on counter terrorism threats, organised crime and the Olympic Games had a potential to increase social unrest.

He said: "There is likelihood that we will see an increased number of demonstrations in the years ahead as the levels and the impact of the cuts are more keenly felt by communities and by certain groups of employees.

"The policing of those demonstrations, even when peaceful, can be very resource intensive."

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