BARNSLEY’S new Chief Inspector of Operations has set his sights on South Yorkshire Police becoming one of the best-performing forces in the country.

Andy Berriman, who took over from Chris Foster, is based at Churchfields in the town centre and arrives with more than 20 years’ experience under his belt.

With a background in response and neighbourhood-based policing with West Yorkshire Police, Chf Insp Berriman was the City Commander for Leeds before moving to work with Barnsley’s officers.

Late last year the force moved away from an enhanced level of monitoring by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), who assessed South Yorkshire Police as ‘good’ in its effectiveness, leadership and legitimacy.

“The Chief Constable (Stephen Watson) has a clear vision of what he wants and that’s to deliver an outstanding service to those who visit, reside or work in the county,” Chf Insp Berriman told the Chronicle. “We’re performing well and after the last HMIC inspection South Yorkshire was the most-improved force and in the top quartile of all forces across the UK - there’s no reason why we can’t be in the top five nationally.

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“Staff take a real pride in serving the public and are going the extra mile day in, day out and I’m proud to work here as there’s real ambition and aspiration. Officers want to be a part of that.”

South Yorkshire Police axed its former Safer Neighbourhood Team structure in a bid to slash £8.1m from the budget in 2015 - a widely criticised decision which saw bobbies being taken out of the communities they knew and moved to Wombwell.

But a U-turn was performed following the backlash and an initial four hubs - in Barnsley town centre, Goldthorpe, Kendray and Royston - began operating in 2017, joined by officers based at Cudworth and Penistone last year.

The teams deal with low-level issues, such as antisocial behaviour, before cases can be escalated up to case management basis if it’s deemed the problem requires more intervention from partnering agencies such as Barnsley Council, whose Safer Neighbourhood Service staff are based in the hubs.

Chf Insp Berriman added: “About 50 per cent of my service has been in neighbourhood policing and I know first-hand just how important that aspect is to residents.

“I’m looking forward to finding all about the good work the officers do across the town in the coming weeks and will be out meeting people.”