South Yorkshire homicides highest since 2007

image copyrightSouth Yorkshire Police
image captionSouth Yorkshire Police has launched 25 homicide investigations this year

The number of homicide investigations launched in South Yorkshire has reached its highest level for more than a decade, BBC research has found.

South Yorkshire Police began 25 inquiries in 2020, more than any other year since 2007 when it recorded 27.

Seven of this year's investigations involved fatal knife attacks while nine are being treated as "unexplained".

The force said it had brought charges or convictions over all but two confirmed homicides.

Of the inquiries launched 11 were in Sheffield, eight in Doncaster and six in Barnsley. There were none in Rotherham.

There were 15 male and 10 female victims, while more deaths - seven - were recorded among 25 to 34-year-olds than any other age group.

The data also showed 12 investigations were started during the first England-wide lockdown.

Last year the force handled 13 homicide inquiries.

Det Supt Ian Scott said: "We understand how utterly tragic and destructive these crimes can be, both for families and for communities as a whole.

"Tackling violent crime is, and always will be, a top priority for us as a force and we will always seek justice for victims of crime and their loved ones.

"We have secured charges or convictions in all but two of the confirmed homicides, and extensive inquiries continue into the investigations which are ongoing."

'Self-fulfilling prophecy'

Of the seven people fatally stabbed, five were males under the age of 35 who were attacked in Sheffield.

The youngest, Isaiah Usen-Satchell, was just 18 when he was attacked in the early hours of New Years Day in St Aidan's Road, near to Norfolk Park.

Dave Campbell is a street project manager for Element Society, in Sheffield, working to educate the city's youth about the dangers of carrying knives.

"It's all about image and protection, none of them want to stab anybody," he said.

"90% of them don't even want to hurt anybody and statistics show they are more likely to be victims rather than the attacker.

"But if everyone else is carrying it for protection, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy."

He called for more investment in youth services and more effort to be put into communication with the young people.

"If you want to reach these young people just parachuting in after an incident rather than building these relationships is not going to work," he said.

Det Supt Scott said tackling knife crime was a key issue for police and the Serious Violent Crime Task Force, which was launched in September 2019.

"The task force continues to make encouraging progress in tackling violent crime wherever we find it, as well as engaging proactively with those in our communities who may be susceptible to becoming involved in this type of criminality," he said.

"Whilst strong policing is, and will remain, a key aspect of our approach, prevention is equally important. We work regularly in partnership with our stakeholders around early intervention."

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