Does Darnall really deserve a bad reputation?

Darnall boasts a plethora of independent shops with a bounty of fresh fruit, essential items, exotic foods and much more. Photo Dan Hobson.
Darnall boasts a plethora of independent shops with a bounty of fresh fruit, essential items, exotic foods and much more. Photo Dan Hobson.
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Darnall has earned a bad reputation of late.

With reports of anti-social behaviour, drugs and violence, the area has been the source of negative headlines.

Independent clothing store on Staniforth Road, Darnall. Photo by Dan Hobson.

Independent clothing store on Staniforth Road, Darnall. Photo by Dan Hobson.

The brutal killing of Sheffield dad Zabair Hussain in Darnall on New Year’s Eve sent shockwaves through the city. His killer, who blighted city streets with hard drugs, was jailed in June.

Meanwhile, more recently, videos showing a man being run over by a car after a mass street brawl in Darnall did little to change perceptions.

But shop owner Asif Javaid, aged 58, said the area’s poor image is unjustified.

Asif, who has run Raja Brothers on Staniforth Road for 35 years, said: “Sometimes people exaggerate things.

We have many nationalities and we co-exist in peace. It’s vibrant, people know each other and people look after each other.

Shop owner Asif Javaid

“I think Darnall is a great place, I don’t have any problems here.

“It’s a very mixed community. We have many nationalities and religions living here and we co-exist in peace. It’s vibrant, people know each other and people look after each other.

“Darnall has a few problems, but so does everywhere. I think Darnall’s bad reputation is unjustified.”

Asif’s view reflects the latest crime figures - offences have actually fallen in the suburb over the last three years.

Flowers left at the scene where Sheffield dad Zabair Hussain was brutally murdered on new Year's Eve. Photo by Dan Hobson.

Flowers left at the scene where Sheffield dad Zabair Hussain was brutally murdered on new Year's Eve. Photo by Dan Hobson.

Between April 2013 and March 2016 there were 2,885 recorded crimes, which equates to a 20.8 per cent drop year-on-year.

Pensioner Jeffrey Knight, 69, said he moved to Darnall in the 1980s and is ‘very proud’ of the neighbourhood.

He said: “I think Darnall is a very peaceful place to live. I don’t see any trouble, I’m happy here.

“I’m very proud of Darnall. There are lots of shops here and the shopkeepers are great – they will go out of their way to help you.

Flowers left at the scene where Sheffield dad Zabair Hussain was brutally murdered on new Year's Eve. Photo by Dan Hobson.

Flowers left at the scene where Sheffield dad Zabair Hussain was brutally murdered on new Year's Eve. Photo by Dan Hobson.

“It’s a proper community here and I like that.”

Walking around on a sunny weekday afternoon, it is hard to see where the problems lie.

Of course, the flowers laid at the scene of Zabair Hussain’s murder , along with tributes, are a stark reminder of darker times.

However, the number of independent shops in Darnall, stocking essentials, fresh fruit, exotic clothes and food, is truly impressive. There are also many barbers, hairdressers, places to eat and more.

Coun Mazher Iqbal, who represents Darnall on Sheffield Council, said the area has many strengths.

He said: “We have invested a lot of money in Darnall and there really is some great work going on there.

Asif Javaid, aged 58, of Darnall

Asif Javaid, aged 58, of Darnall

“Even though funding has been cut, volunteers in the community have supported our call for action and are dedicating their time to working with young people in the area. Darnall Education Centre, the boxing academy, youth groups and youth activities really are making a difference.

“I lived in Darnall for 30 years and I’m very proud of that.”

But for 71-year-old shop owner Dennis Barrett, ‘enough is enough’ – and he has decided to sell his business.

Dennis, who runs Bargains 4 All on Staniforth Road, said: “I’ve sold this shop and I’m moving out.

“This area has gone downhill fast in the last couple of years. Murders, rapes, drugs, violence, always fights in the streets – how can you live with all that going on?

“All the pubs have closed, a lot of the shops have closed – it’s just not what it used to be around here.”

Dennis said the district ‘used to be a great place’

“A lot of people would come here for a night out. But it’s rubbish now. I’ll be gone by Christmas.

“Some pensioners who live in Darnall are terrified to leave their homes. It’s not just at night time either, you get a lot of trouble in the afternoon. They’ll only do their shopping in the morning.

“I’ve got some good customers here, but this area just isn’t for me anymore.”

Coun Iqbal accepted that there were ‘issues with anti-social behaviour in Darnall which need to be addressed’.

“But it is peaceful on the whole,” he said.

“It’s very diverse. You have many faiths and nationalities living alongside each other. Darnall’s diversity is its strength.”

For 28-year-old Mohammed, who didn’t want to give his full name, Darnall’s reputation is unfair.

“It’s a good close-knit community in Darnall,” he said. “People help each other out, support each other, look out for each other.

“People support their local businesses around here too.

“I think Darnall’s reputation is unfair. There has been a murder, but that can happen anywhere. The community is friendly. A lot of different people live around here and, on the whole, we live harmoniously.”

MP Clive Betts, who represents Darnall, praised groups like Darnall Forum and Darnall Wellbeing.

“In groups like this you have people working really hard for the benefit of the community,” said Clive. “Arranging activities, exercise, giving health and finance advice and so much more – the volunteers in the community really need to be praised.”

He added: “Darnall has its challenges. There have been some high profile crimes recently, but crime rates are below average in the area.”

Clive was also upbeat about the new Ikea store coming to Tinsley next year, which will bring 700 jobs to the area.

Dennis Barrett, 71, of Darnall.

Dennis Barrett, 71, of Darnall.

Jeffrey Knight, 69, of Darnall.

Jeffrey Knight, 69, of Darnall.