BARNSLEY has been named as one of the areas most at risk of Christmas break-ins in the country due to its higher-than-average levels of burglaries.

South Yorkshire Police ranks as the worst-affected force in the country for festive break-ins, with 6,121 recorded in the months of November and December in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

It works out at 148.5 burglaries per 100,000 residents - considerably higher than second-placed Cleveland’s 128.1 and London’s Metropolitan Police in third with 110.5, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Wards including Dearne, Hoyland and North East have become worst-hit areas in the town, according to South Yorkshire Police.

However, force bosses are attempting to increase conviction rates for burglaries after it was revealed just 6.9 per cent of perpetrators were charged last year.

John Apter, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Having your home burgled can be one of the most devastating and impactful crimes people experience and its effects can last a lifetime.

“Every police officer joins the job to help people and catch offenders - these statistics will be as soul-destroying for them as they are worrying to the public.

“With many forces struggling to cope with 999 call demand, and others unable to fill detective positions, it is not surprising some crime types are becoming harder to prosecute.

“What the service so desperately needs is a long-term funding deal to enable all forces to return to a position where they are properly resourced to meet the demands they face.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, confirmed ‘researchers’ had been employed by the force to understand the county’s high rates.

“Burglaries that do not result in a charge are a worry everywhere in the country.

“A burglary is not something that just happens to us and then we move on - it is not just about losing property.

“It feels like a violation because the place we live is an extension of ourselves, perhaps even more so during this time when we have been confined to home for such long periods.

“A house breaking can affect us for many years.

“But for reasons that I find hard to fathom, there are high numbers of residential burglaries in our part of the country, higher than similar areas elsewhere.

“I am pleased to say that Barnsley officers are being very active.

“So the police have looked back through the data to see which communities in the Barnsley district, and elsewhere in South Yorkshire, have suffered most from this crime.

“They have enlisted the help of researchers to try to understand why this should be and the help of other agencies - such as the local authority - to see what they can do together to reduce the crime.”