A spate of arson attacks on Sheffield allotments could be linked to crooks looking to steal cannabis, police have revealed – but installing CCTV was all but ruled out at a public meeting.
The meeting, held at St Columba’s Church in Crosspool, was organised following a spate of arson attacks at plots in nearby Hagg Lane and Marsh Lane.
Vandals struck most recently at Marsh Lane, where a large shed belonging to 70-year-old gardener Jeff Walker was destroyed.
Local councillors Anne Murphy and Geoff Smith, as well as police officers, listened to plot holders’ concerns.
PC Louise Atha, part of the Crookes and Crosspool policing team, revealed that several cannabis plants had been found on a plot at Hagg Lane after a hut was set on fire there last month.
She said a man had been questioned and that inquiries are continuing.
“We have got to look into whether the cannabis was something that they might have been looking for,” PC Atha said.
Five thefts and three arson attacks had been reported at Marsh Lane and Hagg Lane since April.
“And a lot of people don’t pick up the phone and report things to us,” PC Atha added.
Ceri Ashton, allotment manager at Sheffield Council, said CCTV was ‘not an ideal solution’. A member of allotments staff would need to be specially trained, and there were issues around the cameras’ battery power and memory.
But she said using a shipping container, instead of a shed, as a place to store tools was ‘the best way forward’.
Nine proposals were brought forward, including ensuring the gates of Crookes Cemetery are locked at night, putting up spiked fencing, starting an ‘allotment watch’ group and working more closely with local schools.
Coun Smith said a follow-up meeting would be held at a future date. Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg has pledged his support to the allotment growers, and Jeff has been given donations including £1,000 from one Star reader.