Call for action in Sheffield suburb where gang leaders are '˜running riot'

Children as young as 12 are running drugs in a Sheffield suburb, say terrified residents, amid escalating gang violence.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 8:38 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 8:43 am
Police on Wostenholm Road in Sharrow after a man was shot in September

People living in Sharrow say police are not doing enough to crack down on drug dealers there and members of the public are afraid to speak out after a series of vicious reprisals.

But police insist they are working hard to stamp out crime in the area, with extra officers working evening shifts, and are trying to engage better with the community to see what more they could do.

Police on Wostenholm Road in Sharrow after a man was shot in September

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A man was shot on Wostenholm Road in Sharrow in September in what police said was a '˜targeted' attack, just three months after a gun had been fired at a house on the same street.

But residents and community leaders, who spoke to The Star on the condition of anonymity, say many serious crimes are going unreported, including a brutal assault on a man in London Road a fortnight ago.

They also told how another man recently had his car stolen in revenge for speaking publicly about the scourge of drugs.

Police on Wostenholm Road in Sharrow after a gun was fired at a house

One man said: 'There are a lot of issues with gun and knife crime in the area. It's very specific to a group of people and police know who they are but they're not doing anything.

'The community's living in fear because if they say anything they're worried they will have their windows put through, or worse. This isn't the Sharrow we've known all our lives.

'The gang leaders are getting clued up to how police operate and they're getting children aged 12,13 or 14 to go out and sell the drugs for them. It's another form of grooming.

'They're running riot and someone needs to say enough is enough and do something about it.'

The Star understands the gang activity centres around the Lansdown estate, where gang leaders hand over drugs for children to distribute by bike up London Road and into the city centre.

A community leader said: 'The police don't seem to be proactive in terms of pursuing people who have been named by the community.

'Now people are becoming afraid to say anything because if they do something bad will happen to them. It's no wonder crime is able to flourish under those conditions.

'It's not just about the police doing something, though. I think the community as a whole has to show the resolve to take this on and give police the information they need...

'We also need to do more to engage children from a young age and interacting with positive role models so they're not groomed into joining gangs.'

A woman living in the area said: 'You can see people openly dealing and there are a lot of attacks which are going unreported. I know of at least five in the last couple of weeks.

'It's a scary time and unless police start listening to the community nothing's going to change.'

Inspector Colette Fitzgibbons, of South Yorkshire Police, said: 'Anti-social behaviour and crime continues to be an issue in the Sharrow area, but we'd like to assure the local community that we are carrying out targeted action.

'For example, officers in Sharrow have been working hard to tackle anti-social behaviour in Mount Pleasant Park and around the Washington Road flat complex. We have been carrying out extra foot patrols and engaging with local residents, which we hope will have a long-term impact on crime levels.

'We know drug dealing and its impact on the community is a concern, and we have been working to tackle this too, especially in Mount Pleasant Park. Officers have also been working late shifts over the last month to cater for increased demand over the Bonfire Night period and as we approach the festive season.

'We have been working hard to engage with residents in Sharrow but are always trying to improve how we do this. In the coming months we will be working with our partners to refresh our understanding of how we can best work and engage with the community of Sharrow'

'We are in regular contact with local councillors and community groups such as Mums United, which provide a direct link to what is going on in the Sharrow area.'