DOZENS more criminals are being caught wielding weapons on Barnsley’s streets as police figures show reports are at a record high.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show weapons offences logged in the borough increased by almost a quarter - with 291 reports in the 12 months up to last September, compared to 235 in the previous year.

Both figures are the lowest among South Yorkshire’s four community safety partnerships (CSPs) - a combination of emergency services, the council and health and probation services that’s broadly comparable to the local authority area.

But the stark 24 per cent rise is by far the highest in the area, and joint-17th highest in the country.

In a count in December 2019, Barnsley CSP recorded 245 offences involving possession of weapons for the 12 months prior, which was the highest figure since records began in 2003.

Drugs offences have also carried on their year-on-year increases, with a rise of six per cent from 758 to 803.

Police have 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.

Three operations last year - dubbed Duxford, Voyager and Sceptre - saw officers crack down on drug and knife crime, often associated with gang activity.

Recent police figures also show 499 stop-searches were carried out from August to October, 117 of which were successful in yielding drugs, weapons or stolen goods.

“Whilst such an increase in drug offences seems alarming, South Yorkshire Police has put huge resource into targeted activity in gang crime and drugs supply, which will hopefully lead to more convictions,” said South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings.

“I do note, however, that there was an increase in stalking and harassment.

“This may mean that victims are more willing to report but we will continue to monitor it closely.

“These statistics show that the commitment and dedication shown by our force is making an impact and I thank them for their ongoing work across the county.”

Dr Billings noted an ‘encouraging’ reduction in violent and knife crime across South Yorkshire, but in Barnsley - according to a police report in September - knife-related crime rose to 77 incidents between April and June from 57 in the previous quarter.

Overall violent crime rose by three per cent between September 2020 and September 2021, from 8,996 to 9,254, compounding last year’s 12 per cent increase which was the highest in the whole of Yorkshire.

Violent crimes with injuries fell by five per cent from 2,499 to 2,363, but violence without injury, and stalking and harassment - both typically linked to domestic abuse - have continued to rise, albeit less severely than last year’s figures.

The former has increased by 12 per cent, from 2,900 to 3,246 and the latter one per cent, from 3,591 to 3,634 - whereas last year they spiked by 22 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.

Overall crime in Barnsley has fallen by one per cent, with 23,833 crimes reported - the lowest figure in South Yorkshire, but the joint-lowest drop compared to Sheffield’s three per cent and Rotherham’s two per cent.

Those rises are countered by significant falls in theft from the person - by 40 per cent from 109 to 65 - non-residential burglary - by 32 per cent from 526 to 358 - and shoplifting by 13 per cent from 1,009 to 875.

Only residential burglaries have increased while all other theft offences have fallen, by two per cent from 1,190 to 1,213.