A ‘MASSIVE CHANGE’ in how Sheffield authorities worked with disaffected young people after the postcode gang murders has been hailed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as the main reason why the city did not see any recent rioting.
While cities including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham suffered problems, Sheffield’s streets remained peaceful and calm.
Mr Clegg said he met young people around Sheffield after the riots who told him of their ‘good relationship’ with the police, rather than the resentful atmosphere that existed in some areas of inner city London before the spate of looting and arson attacks which devastated parts of the capital.
The Sheffield Hallam MP and Lib Dem leader said: “In the week after the riots, I went to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham to see the problems caused by rioting. I also spent time in Sheffield which included visiting a youth centre in Darnall where I spoke to youngsters and asked their views.
“What came over strongly was the positive relationship between police and communities. I asked the young people in Darnall why there was no rioting in Sheffield and they said ‘it’s because we respect the police here’.”
Mr Clegg added that he also felt residents’ pride in Sheffield had prevented rioting.
“If people have a strong identity and pride in where they live, they do not want to see it trashed,” he said.
Chief Inspector Paul McCurry, who is in charge of South Yorkshire Police’s efforts to combat gangs, said: “In Sheffield, there has been a massive change in how we deal with young people because of the postcode gangs.
“There was a spate of murders involving members of the gangs but probably the most recent was Tarek Chaiboub, in 2008. Now police, the fire and rescue service, teachers and Sheffield Futures youth service have put a tremendous effort into working with young people.”
Efforts involved getting to know youths in troubled areas, encouraging them to be involved with activities and work hard at school and for older ones to obtain jobs and training, to keep them away from the lure of drug dealing and gang membership.