Sheffield community leaders fed up of thugs blighting their neighbourhood are on a mission to reclaim their streets.
Residents and community groups in the Abbeydale Road area are uniting to tackle intimidating behaviour, drug use, racial abuse, vandalism and throwing stones.
Shahid Ali, a volunteer at the South Sheffield Community Empowerment Project, said: “People are horrified.
“They are concerned that it is getting worse and worse.”
Locals have had a long-running problem with yobs and on Bonfire Night the mayhem escalated, resulting in three policemen being injured – one seriously – as they clashed with louts hurling fireworks. More than 40 officers were called to the area. Two 15-year-old boys, a 16-year-old girl, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy from Sheffield have been arrested on suspicion of violent disorder.
And this wasn’t the first incident of its kind – on Bonfire Night last year, fireworks and stones were thrown at cars and police in Sharrow.
Following the events last year, police launched a dispersal order banning groups of youths from congregating in the Abbeydale Road area.
Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest said: “We fully support the community and we are committed to working in partnership to tackle antisocial behaviour in the Abbeydale Road and nearby areas.
“We would always encourage anyone who has concerns in their area to come forward and make contact with police. We take all reports seriously and will positively deal with any issues that are raised.”
But Mr Ali said there are still problems. He said the community is fed up and he is a man on mission.
The 37-year-old has lived in the area all his life and is convinced that by the community pulling together, the anti-social behaviour can be tackled.
“The only way we can solve this is to take action at a grass roots level,” he said.
“We need to help and support each other. There are lots of community groups in the area that all work independently. Some get funding and some don’t. We need to get together and maximise our resources. We also need someone to co-ordinate the groups. There seems to be a real lack of leadership in the area.”
Mr Ali says the answer is to keep young people off the streets.
He said: “Young people are being neglected. They are blamed for a lot of issues. They mess about, it is what kids do. We need to figure out a way to engage them. Some of them are young adults – we need to encourage and inspire them. These people will end up in prison if something isn’t done.”
He insists the behaviour is not racially-motivated.
He said: “I don’t think there’s a racist element involved. It’s not just the Asian community, there’s a real mix of kids doing this.”
His campaign has already been kickstarted with councillors, police officers and representatives from the community meeting last month to discuss what can be done.
However, for Mr Ali time is ticking, and referring to the chaotic events on Bonfire Night, he said: “I don’t want it to be next year and the same thing happen all over again.
“We need to look at long-term initiatives for dealing with anti-social behaviour and we need to do it now.”
A spokesman from Sheffield Council said: “Councillors and officers are working with the local community, the police and other partners to tackle the issues in the Abbeydale Road area.”