POLICE will continue to ‘invest wisely’ in technology to stamp out serious crime and make residents feel safer - after the latest wave of funding has seen more than £500,000 brought into the borough.

The latest area to benefit from the government’s Safer Streets fund is Locke Park, which will benefit from new CCTV and lighting thanks to a £115,000 grant.

The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for allocating the funding from the government’s Safer Streets Fund - which has prioritised the safety of women and young girls - with part of £550,000 already being pushed towards Dearne Valley Park earlier this year.

All major routes now also have ANPR - automatic number plate recognition - cameras installed through the fund.

Earlier this year, it was announced areas of Barnsley including Wombwell, Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe, Darfield, Stairfoot and Bolton-upon-Dearne would benefit from £418,000 from the fund in a bid to ‘design out crime’ by targeting areas in the Dearne Valley that could be attractive to would-be criminals.

Barnsley’s district commander Chief Superintendent James Abdy told the Chronicle improvements to ANPR and CCTV technology across the borough give officers ‘really good’ tools to make more informed choices.

“Technology enables us to be able to target our efforts towards criminals and people that are using vehicles to perpetrate their crime,” he said.

“ANPR is really helpful for that, and I think the public can take some comfort in knowing that we use tools such as ANPR.

“It helps police officers make choices about which vehicles they may want to stop.

“The Safer Streets programme makes sure we invest wisely, and work with partners to invest wisely in the areas that need that enhanced security and protection.

“That technology can help reduce crime and make people feel safe.”

Recent operations Duxford, Voyager and Sceptre saw police make use of both ANPR and CCTV in enforcement and engagement activities.

The latter utilised the town centre’s £700,000 high-definition CCTV system as police undertook stop-searches in a crackdown on knife and weapon crime - often associated with gang activity and drug trafficking.

Across the three operations, nine weapons were seized, 17 people arrested, and eight vehicles taken off the road.

Barnsley has recorded year-on-year increases in drug offences, which rose 12 per cent from 718 to 807 in the 12 months from last June.

Weapons offences have also increased having previously reached a record high, according to figures from Barnsley’s Community Safety Partnership a combination of emergency services, the council and probation services.

In June, there were 277 drug offences registered a 17 per cent increase on the previous year’s count of 236.

Police said increases in such crimes are reassuring as a sign that the force’s proactive approach focusing on prevention, intervention and increasing investment in neighbourhood teams is paying off.

Chief Supt Abdy added: “CCTV and ANPR mean that there is that ongoing passive monitoring of events, which alerts us to when emerging incidents might be - and it means we can use our resources in a more efficient way.

“But also as a tool in itself it’s designed to be preventative because it helps to protect and target hard in certain areas, because offenders fear it.

“That is really important investment in preventative tactics, but again we have to do the prevention work, the community intelligence gathering, and we also do the enforcement and reassurance.”