Police in a Sheffield suburb where tensions have built between residents and economic migrants have pledged they will work to tackle ‘numerous and difficult issues’.
One hundred people attended a meeting at the Pakistan Advice Centre, Page Hall Road, Page Hall, to discuss concerns after a large number of Roma and Slovak economic migrants moved to the area.
Problems raised ranged from fly-tipping and litter to ‘intimidating’ groups of up to 30 people on the street, loud music late at night – and child prostitution and sex grooming of underage girls.
There were also complaints about up to 15 people living in small houses.
Similar problems are affecting parts of Darnall and Tinsley, officials admit.
The extent of community tensions was revealed by Kashmir Malik, aged 34, a voluntary worker from Page Hall.
He warned police and councillors at the meeting that action needs to be taken urgently – or people’s anger would boil over.
Insp Simon Leake, in charge of North East Sheffield Safer Neighbourhood policing team, said: “From a policing perspective, we are telling the community that we want tolerance.
“We want different parts of the community to respect each other and resolve the issues.
“We are working with our partners, such as Sheffield Council, to resolve some of the issues and will continue with powers such as the Dispersal Order, which is valid until November 17 and allows us to break up large groups causing trouble.
“Clearly child prostitution would not be acceptable and, if we find any evidence to substantiate the allegations, we will investigate and take action.
“Where people are aware of criminal behaviour taking place, we urge them to come forward so it can be investigated.”
Insp Leake’s comments were echoed by Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for communities.
Coun Iqbal, who is overseeing action in Page Hall from the council’s perspective, said: “We are helping the Roma and Slovak people to learn English and to find jobs.
“But we have zero tolerance for the problems that are happening.
“It is important to keep the streets clean and tidy, and for people not to be intimidated.
“Incidents of anything happening illegally need to be reported.”
Police and the council say they are making more use of CCTV cameras in Page Hall – and will begin issuing on-the-spot fines for littering and fly-tipping.
During the public meeting in Page Hall, Mr Malik warned Insp Leake and councillors: “Tensions are building on the streets.
“You need to do something about the problems or something else is going to occur.
“We want our streets back, and you should help us.”
* Anyone with information about criminal behaviour in Page Hall is urged to call police on 101.