Violent crime and sexual offences rising in South Yorkshire as prosecution rates fall

Violent and sexual offences are on the rise while more criminals are getting away with it.  

Police data has revealed violent and sexual offence crimes are occurring more frequently across South Yorkshire and a higher proportion are ending without prosecution.  

Crime figures from South Yorkshire Police show between January 2018 and January 2020 the numbers of offences taking place rose by over 1000 in some months.  In January 2018 there were 3,314 reported incidents involving violence and sexual offences while 4,733 were recorded during the same month this year.  

The lowest figure was in February 2018, with 2,942 cases, however since April 2019 the figure has never fallen below 4,000.  

The full statistics are shown below.  

Also worrying for SYP, the percentage of reported crimes which ended without prosecution – either a suspect wasn’t identified or they weren’t able to be brought to prosecution – almost doubled at some points during that time.  

At the beginning of the three-year period, 1,267 of the 3,314 cases ended without prosecution, a proportion of 38%.  In August 2019 the proportion was almost double that, with 3,097 of the 4,516 cases making a proportion of 69%.  

Det Chief Insp Emma Knight, South Yorkshire Police, said: “Our data mirrors the national picture on this issue, and there is much work ongoing nationally to better understand the reasons behind low charge rates.” 

Sheffield City Council were able to confirm a number of reasons why cases end without prosecution. These include victims being intimidated by the court process and opting against proceeding with a case, or being put off by the lengthy process of getting a case to court.  

Another consideration is the number of victims who, when reporting a crime, simply want the crime to stop without necessarily wanting the abuser criminalised, for instance if the abuser is the parent of their child.  

A Council spokesperson said: “In recent years the Sheffield Domestic Abuse Coordination Team has been attending the magistrates court regularly to offer victims support when going through a prosecution.

“They have also been liaising with the Police to ensure support is offered, and with the Witness Service who can offer pre-trial visits to court which can help people feel better about attending.”  

For victims of sexual assault, Det Chief Insp Knight said: “Within South Yorkshire, we have worked incredibly hard over the last year to improve our charging rate for rape and serious sexual offences, working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, and this is already bearing results – we now have a charge rate for these offences that is above the national average.”

She added: “At the beginning of February, we participated in the national Sexual Abuse and Violence Awareness Week, raising awareness of some incredible organisations that work within South Yorkshire to provide vital support to victims of sexual abuse and violence.” 

The charity Victim Support, which supports victims of violent crime and those who have been through traumatic experiences, has a Humberside and South Yorkshire branch which deals with crime across the region.  

A spokesperson for the charity said: “It is worrying to see that so many victims of violence and sexual offences are reporting incidents, but are not receiving justice.

“Through our work with victims, we see that prosecution is often a form of closure and an important way for victims to move on with their lives after crime. These figures will risk undermining victims’ confidence in the criminal justice system, and could deter them from reporting incidents like this.”  

Anyone affected by crime and seeking support can contact Victim Support on 08081689111.  Crime victims can also call 101 to report something or make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers on 0800 55511.  

For victims of sexual offences, Det Chief Insp Knight said: “I would urge anyone who has been the victim of a sexual offence to come forward and speak to us. I can assure anyone contacting South Yorkshire Police that they will be treated with compassion, dignity and understanding.

“If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to police you can contact the Sheffield Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0330 2230938.”