‘Neighbourhood turned into war zone’ as trouble with pupils escalates

Police patrols in the area.
Police patrols in the area.
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A HEAVY police presence has been placed around a Sheffield secondary school following a series of violent incidents between pupils and older youths.

Officers and police community support officers were patrolling the streets around Parkwood Academy at Shirecliffe yesterday, with three police vehicles stationed in prominent positions.

Trouble first erupted last week and since then officers have been on duty before classes, at lunchtimes, and after the final bell. Staff, including the principal Mike Westerdale, have also been on duty in streets surrounding the school.

One mum said she had seen pupils fighting on the streets in incidents she believed to be racially motivated.

“Our neighbourhood is being turned into a war zone,” she said. “The kids go home at night but the neighbours are living with this, it’s terrifying.

“All the local people know it’s not a good idea to go to the shops at lunchtime or after school - they are a no-go zone.”

A 23-year-old man who lives opposite the school on Longley Avenue West said he believed police were at the school every day in a bid to make residents feel safe.

“I have seen fights and they seem to be between different racial groups. The kids seem to stick in their own racial groups and don’t seem to mix much,” he said.

“One day I saw an officer with a big stick which he’d taken off some lad. The worst trouble seems to be between current pupils and former ones. The teachers do their best but they are obviously outnumbered.”

A nearby shopkeeper in Teynham Road said: “All of a sudden it has flared up in the last week. I’ve seen all sorts of commotion and the police are trying to keep the peace as best they can.”

Mr Westerdale said he could only apologise to local residents and said he was personally dealing with the issues they had raised.

“There have been two recent assaults on Academy students by local youths,” he revealed. “I am working with the police to ensure the safety of students going to and from the Academy at lunchtime and at the end of the day.

“I am working closely with Sheffield Council and other community partners to help reduce the problem. 

“Equally, I can assure residents I will not tolerate unacceptable behaviour by students outside the Academy and a series of meetings with parents is under way.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed that on Tuesday at 12.20pm police were called following reports from the school of a disturbance outside.

“It was reported that a number of young people who were not students had attended at the school, and a confrontation took place.

“Officers arrived quickly at the location and dispersed the group. Inquiries are ongoing with the school and with local people, and officers are expecting to take action against identified individuals over the next few days.” Chief Insp Andy Male added: “The information we have is that this incident took place between young people from different parts of the city and is linked to where they live, rather than their ethnicity.

“We are working with the school and the young people themselves, and with local residents and other agencies to ensure there is not a recurrence.

“There are additional patrols around the school, consisting of PCSOs and safer neighbourhood officers. Police are maintaining a presence this week outside the premises before and after school hours to provide reassurance to school staff, pupils and parents.”