BARNSLEY is set to receive a share of more than 700 police constables as part of plans to restore figures of on-the-beat bobbies - after force bosses admitted previous cuts resulted in a crime spike.
South Yorkshire Police received government funding for 149 PCs between April 2021 and March 2022, but it was revealed this week that even more posts will be created.
Almost 500 more will join by 2024, with a further 220 posts being secured through local resources such as the policing aspect of tax.
The announcement - long called for by councillors in Barnsley - was given by Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, who admitted previous provision cuts had resulted in an increase in criminality.
“The loss of around 500 police officers contributed, I believe, to an expansion of the drugs markets and associated criminality, including knife and gun crime,” he added.
“I welcome the government’s commitment to restoring police officer numbers, providing an additional 487 officers by 2024 - I will go beyond that and fund a further 220 posts.
“People need to be kept safe, but they also need to feel safe and I want the force to think about how communities can feel reassured, especially in those places that are more remote or are smaller townships or villages.
“For some that will mean that attention needs to be paid to visibility.
“People are reassured by the visible presence of the police in their neighbourhood or by knowing that officers call regularly at places in their community.”
Barnsley now has neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs) in the town centre, Cudworth, Goldthorpe, Hoyland, Kendray, Penistone and Royston - all of which will receive new staff as a result of the recruitment drive.
“NPTs were cut during the period of austerity - from 2010 - but in 2016 I asked the previous Chief Constable to re-introduce them,” Dr Billings said.
“They are now becoming well-established within Barnsley - I wholeheartedly support the problem-solving approach to crime and antisocial behaviour we have led on developing nationally.
“NPTs are also the eyes and ears in communities and a trusting relationship between local communities and officers helps secure vital information about issues of concern, from low-level damage to suspected terrorist activity.
“The current Chief Constable, Lauren Poultney, has recently reviewed the NPT model to ensure structures properly line up with local authority ward boundaries and the arrangements of Health partners.
“The review has also looked at the level of resources needed in each district - this will lead to even more effective placed-based partnership working and services, with co-location of teams in the same building.”
Chf Con Poultney vowed to continue the success of the NPT structure, which saw Barnsley used as a pilot before its roll-out across the county.
“As the number of officers grow and we continue to welcome significantly more new recruits, our key driver is to embed further the model we have, ensuring our foundations are strong and that we are getting the basics right and doing them well every time,” she added.
“This does not mean we are limiting our vision or ambition, it is recognition that after substantial change, consolidation is needed.
“We’re in a strong position to move forward, to deliver our priorities and ensure the people feel safe.
“It is my privilege to lead the next phase of our progress.”
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, praised the police’s commitment.
She said: “I have held a number of meetings with constituents about antisocial behaviour, crime and the justice system - I know the insecurity that people are feeling in their communities.
“I know how the destruction of neighbourhood policing in the last decade has made it feel like there aren’t enough bobbies on the beat.
“These are issues that we need to face up to with an approach that is tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
“But we need to restore faith in the criminal justice system, as well as neighbourhood policing.”