OFFICIAL figures relating to burglaries across Barnsley which reveal a significant reduction in the last 12 months ‘do not reflect the true picture’, it has been claimed this week.

Figures obtained by the Chronicle show there were 121 recorded residential burglaries in May 2018, a number which was reduced to 61 in May 2019.

The 12-month trend shows that numbers hovered around 80 per month last summer, but those shot up to 144 in January, 130 in February and 139 in March this year, although ‘proactive’ police work carried out thereafter has been cited as a reason why figures have halved since.

Over the year to May, 1,411 residential burglaries took place, while a further 646 incidents related to business-related burglary, taking the total figure to 2,057.

A police report said: “Performance regarding serious acquisitive crime rates has seen continued and sustained reduction across Barnsley.

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“The results that are now being seen are directly linked to the collective activities of neighbourhood policing, proactivity around offenders and strong investigative delivery following the return of CID assets to local command.

“Barnsley has continued to deliver sustained crime and demand reduction during 2018/19 and into 2019/20 performance years, taking into account seasonal crime spikes over winter months.

“The district has also developed a detailed and comprehensive action plan to improve victims’ satisfaction for every victim of crime. The year-to-date position for Barnsley shows overall satisfaction is at 82 per cent for attended incidents for the rolling 12-month period.

“Overall satisfaction for burglary in the last six months remains high at 88 per cent.”

However, criticisms have been made about crime rates involving sneak-in burglaries - where offenders get in through ajar doors and windows - and shed break-ins this week.

Shafton in particular has been brought up by the public at police meetings recently and the village’s parish council are meeting on Monday to discuss rising residents’ concerns and have invited Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, to a future meeting.

Parish councillor Les Holt told the Chronicle: “Shafton’s got a high amount of elderly residents, many whom are vulnerable and being targeted by burglars. We’ve given police details of suspicious vans which have been seen, but no-one’s been visited by police.

“I’m a big fan of the police and our vital PCSOs but the lack of presence is encouraging more crime. The figures do not paint the true picture and it’s important to remember that not every victim has the ability to report an incident, so they’re misleading.

“The police ask us to ring 101 but many become fed up because their call isn’t answered. In Shafton I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve trebled in the last year, it truly is that bad at the moment.”

Advice has been given to residents by crime reduction officers as part of an ongoing burglary crackdown, after 40 per cent of last summer’s reports were blamed on leaving windows and doors open.

PC Jack Regan added: “The arrival of the summer months last year heralded an increase in sneak-in burglaries across the borough.

“There are offenders in Barnsley who walk around trying door handles, hoping to gain easy, quiet access to a house, and then to steal from within.

“Residents can help thwart these people by ensuring that if they are at home, they have dropped the latch on their external doors, or secured the door chain.”