Sheffield city centre 'worst its been in 50 years' but Council doing 'everything they can' on spice drug problem
Sheffield city centre is the ‘worst it’s been in 50 years’, it has been claimed, but the council insist they are doing ‘everything they can’ to tackle drug and alcohol abuse there.
The claim comes after a city centre pub landlord said he is “sick and tired” of seeing an already-struggling area brought down further by the behaviour of people drinking and taking drugs on the street as well as harassing people for money.
It’s a problem he and several others said has worsened in recent months.
One woman, who gave her name only as Helen, said she visited the centre on Sunday (2 August) with her brother for the first time since lockdown but was put off coming back for the foreseeable future by what she witnessed.
She said: “What I saw was both upsetting and off-putting in equal measure. I was so shocked, I have not seen the town centre like this before in all my 53 years.
"I kept reminding myself these people have all belonged to somebody at some time – somebody's child, possible brother, sister or indeed parent. It did upset me that we appear to be doing nothing for these people, worse still I did not know what could be done.”
She added: “They lay prostrate in shop doorways and on the benches in the centre of Fargate, seemingly unconscious [...] others were alert congregating in numbers that surprised me. It's not a small problem.”
A picture taken of Fargate on Sunday afternoon shows one man in a zombie-like state unresponsive on the floor with bedding scattered around him. Another person is asleep on the ground next to him in what is one of the city centre’s busiest shopping streets.
Helen said: “Unfortunately it has put me off going back into Sheffield for the time being, there were too few people who did not appear to be either affected by drugs or begging for it to feel safe. I felt outnumbered and fear when walking by.
“Town centres are dying and I hope this is not a nail in Sheffield’s future.”
Councillor George Lindars-Hammond, cabinet member for health and social care at Sheffield City Council said: “The council’s drug and alcohol team, South Yorkshire Police and other partners are continuing to do everything they can to help. We would ask any city centre business that has concerns and would like more information to get in touch with us.
“The non-opiate service at 44 Sidney Street is providing increased community outreach work to deliver street-based help and our specialist spice drop-in clinic will be resumed imminently. Anyone wanting help with spice can walk into the non-opiate service and they are guaranteed to be seen then and there.”
The spice drop-in clinic has been closed since the start of lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cllr Lindars-Hammond added: “We have made sure that all rough sleepers in the city have been provided with accommodation during Covid-19 and we know that some of them have started to engage with drug support services as a result of this during the lockdown period.”