OVERALL crime in the borough has fallen by five per cent, with steep rises in drug-related crime and crimes against society offset by heavy reductions in theft offences.

Theft – such as residential and non-residential burglary – fell by 28 per cent from December 2019 to December 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics figures.

Lockdown’s effects are clear on shoplifting offences – down by 38 per cent, from 1,370 to 850, the lowest recorded figure since 2003 – and theft from the person – down by 36 per cent, from 145 to 93.

Police claim restrictions have also allowed them to direct resources to so-called ‘proactive’ crimes such as drug offences, which require further investigation leading to searches and operations, causing the rise in reports.

In December 2019 there were 616 drug-related crimes logged – that increased to 822 a year later.

Miscellaneous crimes against society – those which do not have a direct victim, such as forgery or handing stolen goods – rose by 21 per cent from 768 to 931.

Weapons offences rose by five per cent from 248 to 261, while public order offences saw an 11 per cent increase from 2,399 to 2,667.

South Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Lauren Poultney said: “The latest crime figures from the ONS cover the 12 months up to December 2020, with the majority of this period impacted by restrictions implemented to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

“With such restrictions in place, it’s no surprise to see that overall crime has reduced, not only in South Yorkshire, but across England and Wales.

“I have been heartened to see the sheer dedication and commitment of our workforce at such an uncertain and challenging time.

“Reduction in demand in some areas has allowed us to really focus our efforts on proactive policing and more patrols in our communities.

“This opportunity to increase our proactive tactics explains the rise in drug offences.

“These sorts of crimes are only detected if we go after them, so the increase is testament to the hard work of our officers and their concerted efforts to disrupt organised crime gangs and take drugs off our streets.

“Life changed more than we could have ever predicted in 2020, and our priority this year is to support the public, our partners and local businesses as life hopefully returns to some sort of normality.

“Our plans will be greatly supported by our continued recruitment drive and growing officer numbers, meaning we can spend more time in and amongst our communities and tackling the issues that matter.”