Councillors fight to defend reputation of Sheffield as a ‘safe’ city following fatal shooting

Murder hunt scene after man was shot dead in a car in Derek Dooley Way, Sheffield.
Murder hunt scene after man was shot dead in a car in Derek Dooley Way, Sheffield.

Sheffield MP David Blunkett is urging those with information about the city’s underworld to help police win the war on gun crime before any more lives are lost.

The former Home Secretary spoke out after one man died and another was left seriously injured after a car they were travelling in was fired at in Sheffield.

Mr Blunkett, who represents Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “Behind any shooting is a group of people who know who has been buying weaponry.

“Until you get co-operation from people who have a clear idea who is buying and selling guns the police are going to struggle - you are always playing catch up.

“If anyone has any knowledge of the source of the weapons being made available and whether they are coming from outside the city they should come forward.”

Councillor Harry Harpham, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, said Sheffield remained a safe place to live.

“We have been assured by the police that this was a targeted incident and they have no reason to suggest that any general member of the public is any more at risk because of this incident,” he added.

“It is really tragic - any loss of life is really tragic.

“These kind of incidents are still rare. Sheffield is a safe city.

“If members of the public have any information about this incident or any other incident they ought to report it because that kind of grassroots intelligence helps us keep the city a safe city.”

But Coun Harpham said he fears for the future policing in Sheffield because of Government funding cuts.

“Given the cuts to the police budget it is making the job of the police and other agencies harder in terms of keeping the city safe,” he said.

“They are unforgiving and draconian cuts that have been made and continue to be made, but we will do our very best working with other agencies to make sure we keep Sheffield safe.”

He said the council worked with the police and other agencies on joint initiatives to help tackle gun crime, including education programmes aimed at deterring young people from carrying weapons.

“We do regular sessions in schools around the consequences and the dangers of guns and weapons in general to try to steer young people away from violent crime,” he said.

“We do a lot of positive work with the police.”

Coun Jillian Creasy, whose ward covers the area where the gunman struck, said it was rare for residents to be caught up in gun crime.

“What often happens is that it turns out that people know each other, there was some prior history. If you are not mixed up with that lifestyle or behaviour you are unlikely to be touched by it,” she added.

Police chiefs have also stressed the efforts being made to rid the streets of Sheffield of guns.

An amnesty led to 52 guns, 300 rounds and 300 shotgun cartridges being handed in over 12 days in November.

The haul of weapons was made up of 15 shotguns, 10 air rifles, seven revolvers, seven air pistols, seven imitation guns, four rifles and two muskets.

Detective Chief Inspector Zaf Ali, responsible for overseeing the police war on gun crime in South Yorkshire, said ‘taking these weapons off the streets and out of circulation means they will not fall into the hands of criminals and be used in any form of criminality’.

He said that gun crime in the county remains ‘relatively low’.

“The firearms amnesty was a national initiative and part of a long-term strategy to tackle gun crime. Any gun in criminal hands is one too many and any injury or loss of life is pointless and tragic, which is why we are determined to take guns off our streets on by one,” he added.

“Officers carry out immediate and prompt action wherever possible to locate and confiscate firearms.

“Aside from that, we also carry out a significant amount of long-term work around educating young people in the county about the dangers of firearms and the consequences. We are also committed to working with our partner agencies to try and stop the flow of weapons.

“We also encourage the public to share intelligence with us relating to where these weapons are.”

Anyone with information on the shooting or those involved with the supply of weapons should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.