A RISE in Barnsley crimes logged by South Yorkshire Police over the last year - headlined by a 20 per cent hike in drug-related offences - has been put down to better policing and the public’s increased confidence in reporting.

Decreases in criminal damage, arson, public order and violence were noted although burglary, theft, robbery, weapon-related offences and drug crime all rose in the 12 months to September 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Barnsley North East Policing Team - which covers villages such as Cudworth, Grimethorpe and Shafton - account for most local offences, with the busiest month for officers coming in May when 901 crimes were recorded, with February’s 751 the quietest month.

The Barnsley South East area which covers Thurnscoe, Goldthorpe and Birdwell - was the second-worst affected area for crime.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings praised ‘proactive policing’, adding the force’s priorities of dealing with drugs and burglary offences in particular could be why figures have climbed.

Dr Billings said: “An apparent increase in crime figures, however slight, naturally gives cause for concern.

“However we must be mindful that the latest ONS figures show levels of recorded crime, which can indicate increases in proactive policing as well as more reporting from members of the public.

“Firearms offences have increased by 17 per cent - this reflects a disturbing increase across Yorkshire and Humberside as a whole.

“This increase highlights the importance of the work South Yorkshire Police’s armed crime team is doing.

“On the face of it, an increase in drugs offences of 20 per cent may be a cause for concern, however this increase will also be in part due to the police being more proactive in seeking out these types of crimes and dealing with them.

“In that regard, these figures give me some assurance that drug related crimes are being given priority by South Yorkshire Police, in line with what residents tell me is a priority for the force to deal with.”

A key tool in reducing incidents in the coming year, according to Dr Billings, is the roll-out of Barnsley’s facial recognition CCTV which will enable the police to match images with existing photographs.

He added: “Just before Christmas, I sat in a newly-commissioned CCTV van in Wombwell Park where two council operatives were able to bring up, on half a dozen screens, live pictures from 165 cameras across Barnsley.

“But the technology that will come to the fore this year for policing will be facial recognition software.

“This will enable the police to match the facial images they capture day-to-day on cameras or mobile phones with data banks of existing photographs, in order to identify suspects.”