Whenever I go to community meetings and ask people in the Rotherham area what their main concerns are they almost always say either burglaries or speeding motorists.
This reflects what our surveys are telling us as well. When asked to list priorities for police action, more than 40% of people in Rotherham say burglaries and more than 30% speeding. Close behind come drug dealing and off-road bikes.
Other concerns are vandalism, parking, vehicle thefts, guns and knives, anti-social youths and nuisance neighbours.
Interestingly and surprisingly, the matter that concerns people the least seems to be hate incidents.
And more than 5% of people say they have no issues at all.
Once a month I hold a meeting in public at police headquarters. At it I go through the issues and ask the senior police officers to explain what they are doing about them. Sometimes this is about what they are doing across the whole of South Yorkshire and sometimes it’s about one of the four districts in particular – Rotherham, Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield.
This month we were focussing on Rotherham. So burglaries were a big part of the conversation.
A lot of work has been done, identifying offenders and responding quickly.
The results speak for themselves.
Since November 2018, burglaries in Rotherham district have fallen from 233 per month to 108 in April.
Some parts of the borough have been particularly targeted. In Swinton, for instance, following police action against some known individuals, house burglaries fell from 25 in February and 32 in March to 2 in April.
It’s astonishing how so many crimes are the result of just a few offenders. But it does mean that if you can put away those few you can make a huge difference very quickly to people’s lives.
Having been burgled myself – though not when I lived in South Yorkshire – I know how deeply disturbing it is. It feels like – it is – a violation.
Starting in Swinton, the police have been introducing another initiative called Operation Shield. 800 houses are being visited and crime prevention advice is being given and the chance for the security marking of property. When this was done in Sheffield it led to a big fall in crime in the Gleadless Valley area.
I expect there will always be some crime. But as far as burglaries are concerned, the police in Rotherham are determined to get on top of it.