A COUNCILLOR has called on South Yorkshire Police to deliver on its promises to put more officers back into Barnsley’s communities - having told county bosses a lack of bobbies on the beat is crushing residents’ confidence in the force.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings attended last week’s crime and safety meeting in Worsbrough, having been invited by Coun Jake Lodge, who represents the ward.
Concerns were raised over the level of crime being committed, policing numbers and an alleged slow response time to those reported issues via 101.
Coun Lodge told the Chronicle: “I’ve been working hard for more than three years to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour across Worsbrough.
“However, there’s lots more to be done and that’s why I challenged Dr Billings on the number of police officers and PCSOs in my community.
“In my opinion it is too low to have a serious impact on the challenges we face.”
South Yorkshire Police received government funding for 149 PCs between April 2021 and March 2022.
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 loss of around 500 police officers contributed, I believe, to an expansion of the drugs markets and associated criminality, including knife and gun crime,” Dr Billings added.
“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 - but Coun Lodge has urged more to be created.
He added: “I’m glad that he will take these issues forward, but I have supported too many victims that haven’t been or don’t feel they are listened to.
“We need action, not just words, because this is residents’ concerns we’re talking about and if they didn’t have serious doubts, this wouldn’t even be an issue.
“They just want the police’s promises to ring true - and, key to that, is seeing more officers on the streets because it really does have a big impact on confidence levels and indeed criminality.”