Police commissioner Shaun Wright has vowed to hold South Yorkshire’s Chief Constable to account if his officers fail to reduce crime.
Despite recorded crime in the county falling by 7 per cent last year – a reduction of 7,206 offences – the police and crime commissioner admits he has set ‘a very challenging’ target for South Yorkshire Police to achieve even better results next year.
He said he wants the downward trend to be ‘at least in line with the national average’.
Mr Wright, who has the power to hire and fire chief constables, said: “It is very positive to have achieved a 7 per cent reduction - that’s more than 7,000 fewer victims of crime.
“I have set as a key target for Chief Constable David Crompton for the downward trend to continue, but I have set a very challenging target because I want to see crime fall at least in line with the national average.
“Although we have seen crime continue to fall for the last 12 to 15 years, some areas of the country are seeing it fall more than others.
“The areas that see higher reductions are more affluent areas where there is greater employment and households have more income – factors that play a part in crime and anti-social behaviour.
“However, I feel we should at least aspire to achieve the same sorts of reductions that are being seen elsewhere, irrespective of the challenges we have in South Yorkshire.
“I am a great believer that of you don’t set challenging targets you are never going to get there. It is a significant challenge for the force. I am aware of that and the Chief Constable is aware of that.
“However, I feel it right to set that target and if it’s not met then the force will have to explain.”
Mr Wright said he is concerned about house burglaries increasing by eight per cent last year – with 8,229 offences recorded compared to 7,654 the year before – but said he is confident a force-wide crackdown will yield results. He said break-ins and increases in fraud, forgery and shoplifting could be related to ‘austerity and the state of the economy’.
Mr Wright said the rate of the reduction in crime in the county over recent years could have been affected by the loss of about 200 police officer posts, due to heavy budget cuts.