Statement from Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner:
“HMIC reports are useful for me when I hold the force to account. They help me see more clearly the areas that need greater attention.
“This report concentrates on how effective the force is at preventing and investigating crime and anti-social behaviour, tackling serious and organised crime and protecting victims and the vulnerable. It is a mixed picture of ‘good’ and ‘requiring improvement’.
“I am pleased that the force is considered ‘good’ at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and keeping people safe. Keeping people safe is the overall outcome of the Police and Crime Plan that I produce each year. Wherever I go, people in all communities say they want the police to keep them safe. I believe the decision to keep neighbourhood teams with PCSOs was the right one, even though numbers are becoming stretched. We shall keep PCSO numbers at existing levels – 225 – for the coming years.
“It is also good news that the force is ‘good’ at tackling serious and organised crime and fulfilling national responsibilities, including cyber-crime. The report acknowledges that South Yorkshire has some very experienced and capable officers.
“But the force will have to work at improving the way it investigates crime more generally and manages offenders. The latter will require greater co-operation with other agencies. However, I note that victim satisfaction levels remain above the national average. I also note the strain that has been placed on the force due to cuts in grant and therefore in numbers. We need to find more savings from areas other than the workforce if the good work is to be built upon.
“I shall be particularly concerned to ensure that the force thinks more carefully about how it protects from harm those who are vulnerable and those who become victims of crime.
“I am very pleased that the report recognises the steps that have been taken to improve the force’s response to child sexual exploitation. It states clearly that there is now strong leadership in place and it is ‘well-prepared’ to tackle child sexual exploitation.
“But more needs to be done to understand domestic abuse and help the victims and their children.
“Protecting the vulnerable will be a key priority for the renewed Police and Crime Plan which I shall be publishing in a few weeks time. We need to expand our understanding of who the vulnerable are.
“There are also growing categories of victims that need sensitive help, such as those suffering domestic abuse or those caught up in modern slavery and trafficking. We are only just beginning to recognise the scale of the problem.
“I will use this report to focus the attention of the police on these areas of growing concern.”