Desperate residents have threatened to ‘take the law into their own hands’ if a ‘hardcore’ gang of teenage yobs threatening people with knives and committing serious assaults are not tackled.
The gang – known as the ‘Top Corner Boys’ – don face masks and gather on street corners before committing increasingly serious crimes. Police are now planning to use new laws to make it an offence to gather in groups of two or more in Nether Edge or wear face coverings – or face arrest.
The Public Space Protection Order would be the first of its kind in Sheffield.
Coun Mohammad Mahroof warned: “Some people came to me and said ‘if no action is taken we will take the law into our own hands’.”
New legislation is set to be used by South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield Council to tackle teenage street gangs committing criminal offences in Nether Edge.
Coun Mohammad Maroof told police and members of the public at a meeting held in Nether Edge that proposals put forward by South Yorkshire Police are desperately needed.
He warned: “People are pushing me and they are so fed up. Some people came to me and said ‘If no action is taken we will take the law into our own hands’. At that point there will be civil problems and unrest on the streets.”
Inspector Ian Stubbs said: “We are at a point now where after 18 months to two years of quite concerted efforts from partners in the area we have a hardcore group which we’re not really getting anywhere with so now we’re looking at alternative means of tackling it.”
Police told concerned members of the public they plan to use new legislation to tackle the gang of 13, 14 and 15-year-olds known as the ‘Top Corner Boys’ who have been throwing stones at people, gathering in large groups wearing face masks and committing serious assaults.
Police have proposed that a Public Space Protection Order be imposed on part of Nether Edge, after the number of anti-social behaviour incidents jumped 60 per cent from 46 incidents in 2013 to 74 in 2014.
The order is part of new legislation created last year to tackle antisocial behaviour. If the order is made, it will be the first of its kind used anywhere in Sheffield.
The order will make it a criminal offence to congregate in groups of two or more people ‘in a manner likely to contribute to members of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed’.
It will also be a criminal offence to wear a face covering to conceal your identity within the order zone, although religious headwear will be excepted.
The proposed area for the zone runs from Batt Street to Glover Road and includes Staveley Road, Fieldhead Road, Witney Street, Herschell Road, Horner Road, Glover Road and a section of Abbeydale Road.
Insp Stubbs added: “The purpose is to tackle the issue we have seen of young people congregating in gangs targeting innocent members of the public and causing criminal damage.
“This gang have ramped it up a little bit and are committing more criminal offences now rather than just young kids causing ASB.
“We have done some in-depth analysis of all crimes reported to the police and they would tend to point to that being the particular area of concern.
“We’ve got to be careful not to use a hammer to crack a nut.
“This order is to tackle the more serious stuff from the Top Corner Gang where we’ve had some robberies, we’ve had some serious assaults, we’ve had members of the public being targeted.”
The zone is proposed to go ahead for a year –but could last up to three years.
“If this one goes through it will be the first one in Sheffield. It’s a little bit of a testing the water to see how effective this legislation can be.
“We are proposing an application for a year and in a year we will review it.”
Members of the public at the meeting called for the boundaries of the order to be extended to help deal with anti-social behaviour in other parts of the area.
John Mallows, community sergeant for the Abbeydale Corridor, added: “There is education work taking place in primary schools and secondary schools and engagement in the community.
“We must stress there is still ongoing education and engagement work on top of this – this is just one mechanism.”