Rural crime - South Yorkshire Police - strategy and action
Over the past year, a number of constituents have talked to me about their experience of rural crime, also raising the need for more police action.
I've been made aware of some terrible crimes that have been committed in our more rural communities, and have become increasingly aware that people living in remote areas can feel vulnerable. Everyone knows that our cities demand a visible police presence, but village and farming communities should also feel safe, and it's time that rural crime was taken as seriously as urban crime.
In November, Home Secretary Priti Patel visited our constituency and held a ‘round table’ with local residents. Many shared harrowing personal stories of crimes they had experienced, and I promised to do three things:
- To follow up with local police
- To arrange a public meeting
- To keep constituents informed
Over the past months, I have been in regular contact with Chief Constable Steve Watson, of South Yorkshire Police (SYP), Chief Superintendents Stuart Barton, (Sheffield) and Sarah Poolman, (Barnsley). I have further stayed in touch with our Neighbourhood Policing Teams in Penistone and Deepcar. As a result, constituents’ concerns have been discussed at length, and details of all crimes that I have have been made aware of have been passed on. I am pleased to say that SYP have demonstrated a desire to engage on this issue, and the Chief Constable has committed to attending a public meeting, which will be set up as soon as social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
SYP rural crime strategy
"South Yorkshire Police are committed to working with all agencies across a wide range of wildlife, environmental and countryside issues. We aim to develop effective partnerships, promote preventive strategies that improve the understanding of wildlife & rural crime issues. We have a statutory duty to enforce the law on wildlife, environmental crime & rural crime". Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley
The SYP have already made significant progress in progressing their rural crime strategy and over the comings months we can expect to see further progress.
Recruitment of more police
As part of the Government’s promise to recruit 20 000 new police officers, 269 new police officers have been recruited in South Yorkshire over the past 12 months. These include new officers who are now based in Penistone and Deepcar.
Deployment of Rural Alerts system
The Police have rolled out a notification system, called ‘Rural Alerts’. Using this system members of the public can sign-up to receive up-to-date information about locally reported crime, together with updated security advice. This is clearly going to be a helpful service that I hope will improve communications with rural residents, in turn helping to combat rural crime.
You can sign up here: www.sypalerts.co.uk, Once you’ve entered your postcode you'll be invited into the relevant group so that you get alerts specific to your location.
Launch of a rural crime information page
SYP have published a rural crime page, here, on which they set out their strategy, and provide useful information about the different types of rural crime and the best way to report it.
Police/community engagement has understandably changed as a result of COVID-19, with more use of social media and online communications. For example, Barnsley West Neighbourhood Policing team have a Facebook page on which they run live Q&A sessions.
I would encourage everyone to continue to report all crimes to the police, so that they can build up a clear picture of what is going on and take action where appropriate.
I am reassured that the police are taking our concerns seriously but there is still much more to be done. Therefore, I will continue to engage with the SYP police and constituents, and will provide regular updates on progress over the coming weeks and months.