Residents, police and Council must 'join forces' to tackle gang culture behind multiple shootings in Nether Edge

How to solve a problem like Nether Edge? During lockdown, the area has been plagued by multiple shootings, with locals too ‘terrified’ to even stick their head around the door.

Wednesday, 5th August 2020, 8:21 pm

Over the past few months, shots have been fired on Machon Bank, Glen Road, Vincent Road and Abbeydale Road.

Sahira Irshad has spoken up on behalf of the troubled community- urging residents, South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield City Council to join forces in the ongoing war against gang culture.

Sahira, a Nether Edge resident who heads up local group Mums United, said that while enforcement is important, it’s ‘prevention’ and ‘engaging young people’ that is key to restoring harmony not only in Nether Edge but across the city itself.

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Increased patrols in Nether Edge following multiple shootings.

She said: “Even before Covd-19, the issue of gangs and knife crime was rife- not just in Nether Edge, but across the entirety of Sheffield. It’s happening across the board, just look at recent incidents in Arbourthorne and Burngreave.

"The pandemic hasn’t deterred dealers, and there seems to have been an upsurge in violence during lockdown- knife crime has escalated to gun crime.

"It’s gotten to a point where there is an incident in Nether Edge and Sharrow every two to three days.

"I haven’t slept, and am in a constant state of anxiety. I hear a noise and I jump. I won’t let my son go outside. I’m wary about him going to the nearby park, which should be a safe space for all children.

Pictures from the scene of a double shooting at Glen Road in July.

"This is not just the case for me, but many of my neighbours too. Parents are in a constant state of despair and are at a loss when it comes to protecting their children.

“Enforcement is important, but I feel we should be delving deeper. How can we engage kids swept up in gang culture, which may have become their comfort zone?”

Sahira added that it was crucial that ‘all cultures, races and religions’ come together to tackle the issue.

She said: “There is the tendancy to believe tat gang culture is an Asian problem, when actually it is an age group problem.

"Why do young people become embroiled in gang culture? It could be as simple as money, ego or acceptance. It’s rarely about religion or race. Grooming is carried out very organically.”

Sheffield City Council said it was taking action against the exploitation of young people in these communities.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “The safety of all of our children and young people is a priority and we take this very seriously.

“Working together with the police, hospitals, schools, youth, community and voluntary organisations we act early to identify where young people may be at risk of exploitation in their communities.

"In March we agreed at cabinet a new strategy which aims to tackle the exploitation of young people.

"The strategy was developed with young people and co-produced with South Yorkshire Police, and our partners in the health, voluntary and charity sector.

"It articulates a system wide approach to tackling these serious issues.”

As part of the strategy the Council has developed a number of projects and services including the Amber Project.

School staff, youth workers, housing officers, social workers, and police community support officers now wear Amber Project badges.

This means these professionals are fully trained in how in how to speak to young people about exploitation, and the badge means that young people can see who they can talk to if they have concerns or need support.

In the meantine, South Yorkshire Police said they were conducting high visibility patrols to disrupt suspected criminal activity across the Nether Edge area.

Officers from the Sheffield South West Neighbourhood Policing Team have united with armed and unarmed response teams, officers from Operation Fortify, roads policing officers and the Serious Violent Crime Taskforce to offer these ‘enhanced’ patrols.

Neighbourhood Inspector Louise Kent said: "We understand how concerning incidents like these can be for local residents who simply wish to go about their daily lives.

That is why we will continue to carry out patrols to provide a high-visibility, enhanced response to offer reassurance and support to people in the area.

"If you have any concerns you'd like to raise, please do not hesitate to speak to one of our officers on patrol. We will listen to you and we will take appropriate action.

Between Friday, July 24 and Wednesday, August 5 the force said it had made nine arrests, seized three weapons, stopped 200 vehicles, conducted 212 stop and accounts, seized eight vehicles, conducted five land searches and recovered a quantity of class A drugs and a large bag of cannabis.

"While not all of these results are directly connected to the recent incidents in the area, the work our officers are doing here is having a huge impact on disrupting criminal activity in the area,” said a South Yorkshire Police spokesperson.

"We have received some very positive feedback from residents engaging with us who have noted the increased police presence and activity in their area.”

Dedicated officers will remain in Nether Edge for the foreseeable future

On Tuesday, July 28, Inspector Kent attended a partnership meeting which included representatives from Mums United, Sheffield City Council and local landlords to update those present on the police activity that has already taken place, and plans for the coming weeks.

Insp Kent added: “A long-term partnership approach is being taken to tackle the organised criminal groups operating in the Nether Edge area.

“Residents can be assured a robust plan is in place and we are committed to stamping out organised criminality in this community.”

Anyone with concerns can contact the local Neighbourhood Policing Team, call 101 or get in touch with Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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