by Daniel Sutherland
South Yorkshire Police are to make domestic abuse and false imprisonment their top priority after an annual report into police effectiveness told the force it requires improvement.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), who produce the yearly document, said: “The force needs to improve how it identifies and addresses risks to domestic abuse victims.
“The inconsistent approach to assessing risk means the force cannot be sure it is taking adequate steps to safeguard victims and their children.”
According to the findings, the force currently investigates organised crime groups reported to be involved in human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
Those that pose the greatest threat are passed on to the regional tasking and co-ordination group, part of the Yorkshire and Humber regional organised crime unit.
In a statement, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings responded to claims by saying: “More needs to be done to understand domestic abuse and help the victims and their children.
“Protecting the vulnerable will be a key priority for the renewed Police and Crime Plan which I shall be publishing in a few weeks time.
“There are also growing categories of victims that need sensitive help, such as those suffering domestic abuse or those caught up in modern slavery and trafficking.
“We are only just beginning to recognise the scale of the problem.”
Deputy Chief Constable Dawn Copley said: “The way we respond to domestic abuse clearly needs to improve and we take this feedback very seriously.”
Inspectors judged the force’s ability to prevent crime, keep people safe and prevent anti-social behavior as good, as well as how they tackle serious and organised crime.
Both how they protect vulnerable people, support victims and, also, investigate crime and manage offenders were deemed ‘requiring improvement.’
These concerns were echoed by the general public, claiming there are not enough police on the streets.
Susan Lilley, a volunteer worker from Manor Top, Sheffield, said: “Yeah, I think we need more police, but where’s the money coming from?
Peter Robinson, 56, visiting from Hull, also claimed: “You tend to find what police you do see are responding to things rather than having the presence on the street.”
Making an overall judgement, the report said: “The force is making effective use of technology so that officers make best use of their time in those areas with a high concentration of anti-social behaviour and crime.
“However, the force needs to improve the way it investigates crime. The responses to reports of crime are delayed sometimes and this, together with a lack of capacity in the major crime team, affects adversely the quality of investigation.”
These results have come just as South Yorkshire Police have announced the recruitment of nearly 400 new officers over the next three years.
Aiming to recruit more female officers, as well as more from black and minority ethnic communities, registration opens on Tuesday March 1 at 9.30am and applicants will have until Thursday March 3 at 11.59 pm to sign up.