Concerned residents and business owners have hit out at drink and drug-fuelled anti-social behaviour in the heart of Chesterfield.
The ‘nightmarish’ problem is blighting New Beetwell Street on a daily basis – leaving parents and their children horrified as they wait for buses at stops on the stretch of road.
Police say they are aware of reports of anti-social behaviour in the area and are carrying out patrols.
They are also working with other authorities to tackle the problem of homlessness in Chesterfield – which they say is of ‘increasing concern’.
Waiting at one of the bus stops on New Beetwell Street, Clare Stanford, of Chesterfield, said: “I see people drinking and doing drugs and passing out in broad daylight week in, week out. It’s an awful, nightmarish situation and there needs to be action to rid this problem from our streets once and for all.”
Janet Carpenter, of Brimington, added: “They lie unconscious in their vomit, they fight and they intimidate folk – they often look at you and ask for money or lighters.
Officers will continue to patrol the area and take appropriate actionSuperintendent Jim Allen, the lead on police operations in Chesterfield
“It’s not good when you’ve got your grandchildren with you – they’re terrified.
“The police station is only up the road and I think there should be an officer marching up and down New Beetwell Street every day to stop this from happening.”
A group of alleged drug addicts gathered near one of the bus shelters as the Derbyshire Times was carrying out its interviews – then a man was sick up against a wall.
They left when they saw our photographer’s camera.
John Bulcock, of Chesterfield, said: “Nobody should have to see all that while they’re waiting for a bus. It’s a terrible situation which has been going on for far too long.”
James Thompson said he felt ‘very sorry’ for those who had ‘clearly encountered big problems in their lives’.
“They need help,” he added. “They need a place to go to so they can be safe and get support.”
Melvyn Parsons, business owner of nearby Strides Wedding Specialists, agreed.
“The council ought to provide a drop-in centre for these people,” he said.
Superintendent Jim Allen, who is the lead on police operations in Chesterfield, said: “We are aware of concerns about anti-social behaviour in the Beetwell Street and New Beetwell Street area, especially around the bus shelters.
“Officers from our Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team regularly patrol the area, moving groups on and taking further action when appropriate.
“The area is covered by a Designated Public Places Order, giving powers to police to seize alcohol, as well as powers to disperse groups found to be causing anti-social behaviour.
“The concerns raised about anti-social behaviour have also been related to reports of people sleeping rough in the shelter and officers are working with the local authorities and homeless charities to refer and put them in touch with agencies who can offer the relevant help and support.
“In the longer term, we are working alongside Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council and the Pavements Shopping Centre to try to prevent groups from gathering in the shelter. CCTV cameras have been put up to cover the area and the council’s street cleaning team regularly attend the area.
“Officers will continue to patrol the area and take appropriate action when all the circumstances are considered. Homelessness is an increasing concern in the area and we will continue to work with the councils to take this problem off the streets of Chesterfield.
“If any member of the public sees anti-social behaviour anywhere, they should report it to us on 101.”
More than 100 people have commented about the problems on New Beetwell Street on the Derbyshire Times’ Facebook page.
James Salt said: “They abuse passers-by, shout and swear and make an absolute mess. The poor security guards have to keep going down to sort it out.”
Tina Bagshaw said: “I won’t catch the bus from there any more as I don’t feel safe. I’d rather catch it at the top of town.”
Linzi Cowley said: “I caught the bus with my two children on Saturday and felt really uncomfortable. At least 15 people were sat on the floor drinking special brew and cider and smoking substances I’m not sure were legal. My little boy said, ‘mum, I don’t like it – why are they swearing?’”
Stephanie Conquest said: “It’s absolutely disgusting – there’s sick and wee everywhere. They swear and I feel very intimidated. I have a three-year-old and a 13-year-old with me most of the time and we should not have to wait for a bus in these conditions.”
James Reah added: “Wow, what a lot of judgemental people. These are human beings who have fallen on hard times and all anyone can do is judge them.”