The man in charge of policing in Cross Gates has heralded a good year in the fight against crime – but warned of challenges ahead.
Inspector Nick Smart leads the Cross Gates, Whinmoor and Temple Newsam Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), which operates from Killingbeck police station on York Road.
He said crime had fallen across the board in 2012.
Burglaries, which he says are the biggest challenge facing police in the area, dropped by 37 per cent, from more than 300 in 2011 to fewer than 200 last year.
“That has been really satisfying,” he said.
“But you can’t take your foot off the gas.
“For every burglar we put away, there’s always one coming out of prison. It’s a constant battle – the word I’d use is ‘relentless’.”
Attempts to bring down burglary statistics, along with the fight against anti-social behaviour, remain the NPT’s priorities.
Insp Smart, a 40-year-old father of two who runs a team of three sergeants, 12 PCs and 12 PCSOs, said police had worked with other organisations, including housing authorities, to target prolific criminals.
“In the Cross Gates and Whinmoor ward, we managed to get a lad who was committing lots of anti-social behaviour and was a known burglar evicted.
“That should have a big impact on crime.
“It’s largely about how we manage known offenders who are living in our community. The ones we know are intent on committing burglaries will get visited once or twice a day so that they know that we’re keeping an eye on them.”
While most crime has fallen in the past year, the number of break-ins at non-domestic buildings, like sheds, has increased.
“There were 142 such incidents last year, compared with 122 the previous year.
And Insp Smart said his team were braced for further challenges as government cuts started to bite.
He admitted he was especially concerned that reductions to benefits could lead to an increase in crime in Cross Gates and the surrounding area.
“Will it manifest itself in terms of increased crime? It’s something nobody knows,” he said.
“But, come April, when the cuts come in, we will be monitoring offending patterns very carefully to see if there’s a rise.
“It’s something we are planning for and thinking about.
“We’re conscious that we’re vulnerable to government reforms because it’s going to directly affect a lot of our communities.”
An occasional rugby player in his spare time, the inspector insisted his team would not be dwelling on recent successes.
“You’re only as good as your last game and that’s what drives us forward,” he said.