REVEALED: Every shooting which took place on Sheffield’s streets in 2020

As Sheffield struggled with the coronavirus crisis in 2020, another story was unfolding on the city’s streets: a plague of gun violence.

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 8:00 am

A Sheffield Star investigation has found an astonishing 37 shootings took place in the city in 2020, beginning with one on Staniforth Road in Darnall on January 4 and ending with one on the Lowedges estate on Christmas Eve.

The neighbourhoods of Nether Edge, Burngreave, Heeley and Arbourthorne all saw multiple shootings each but surprising areas like Meersbrook and Grenoside also saw individual incidents.

Fortunately, only one of 2020’s shootings resulted in someone’s death, when 20-year-old Ramey Salem was gunned down in Burngreave in November.

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Abbeydale Road from the air.

However, 16 other incidents resulted in people being injured, some seriously, including victims being shot in the leg, arm, chest, neck and foot.

A further 19 shootings resulted in damage to property and one led to the death of a dog.

The worst affected areas were Nether Edge, where six incidents took place, Burngreave and Heeley where five incidents happened a piece, and Arbourthorne where four incidents were recorded.

Together, these neighbourhoods accounted for more than a half of all the shootings that took place in Sheffield in 2020.

Police investigating a suspected shooting near Abbeydale Road

Superintendent Ian Proffitt from South Yorkshire Police’s Armed Crime Team, acknowledged 2020 had been a ‘challenging year’.

He said that while the 37 shootings had all been ‘targeted attacks’, he understood there would be public concern about the violence.

And he said that while no one factor had caused the rise, all the shootings were related in some way to the drug trade.

He said: “In 2020 a small number of groups involved in supply found themselves in dispute with each other - and that all came about all at a similar sort of time.

A firearm seized by police in Sheffield in 2020.

“But during the year we increased our capability and we are already starting to see an impact on these groups and the number of discharges.

“The public might not appreciate it at first glance but towards the back end of last year we have started to see some results.”

Supt Proffitt said that as a result of the efforts of his Armed Crime Team and others, 15 people had been arrested in connection with the cluster of shootings in the Abbeydale Road area last summer.

He also said 12 firearms had been recovered from this area while 11 search warrants had taken place and 10 people were still subject to ongoing investigation.

Superintendent Ian Proffitt of South Yorkshire Police's Armed Crime Team.

“I think we are in a better place in terms of the level of violence in Abbeydale Road than we were six months ago but there is more than we can do,” he said.

“It’s far from resolved but we have done an awful lot to reduce the impact of a certain group of individuals’ criminality.”

But he said that the problems wouldn’t be solved overnight, and police needed both help from the public and a long-term focus on violence reduction to make a lasting impact.

He said: “Some people have historically felt uncomfortable about providing information to the police but I do think people are waking up to that link that we don't want firearms discharged on the streets of Sheffield.

“And while our role is still predominantly about enforcement, there are also social and economic issues which affect young people in these communities and that is a very difficult cycle to break.”

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said the swingeing cuts the police force has endured in the last decade were undoubtedly a factor in increasing violence, but that there were signs the tide was being turned.

A firearm seized by police in Sheffield in 2020.

He said: “In South Yorkshire over the last 10 years we lost 500 officers out of 3,000 and during that time in my view you saw the rise of organised criminal gangs around drug dealing.

“That is the legacy we had of no investment in police forces and what the Government is desperately trying to repair the damage of now.”

But he said that the recent announcement of more officers, and changes to the way South Yorkshire Police operate, was already producing results.

This includes more resources for things like the Armed Crime Team and also a renewed emphasis on neighbourhood policing.

He said: “We're now seeing the police getting on top of the organised gangs and there have been high profile court cases that have seen people put away for a long time.

“I am satisfied they are getting a grip of this.”

But Sahira Irshad, who has been campaigning on the issue of youth violence in the Sharrow area and beyond since 2018, said more needed to be done to stop young people going down the wrong path.

She described the explosion of violence which took place in the suburb last summer as ‘horrible’.

“Lots of mums were scared about sending their children to the local park,” she said.

“The police say they are all targeted and it is just particular gangs but the knock on effect affects the morale of the community.

“What is really alarming is how it has progressed from knives to guns and we don’t have a true picture of why.”

And Sahira said that without more support for young people - with the 10-15 age group seen as key - the problem was likely to continue.

“Only systematic support measures will address the underlying issues and root causes of youth violence,” she said.

“The police have taken a few of the top people out but there is a generation of young people who are in awe of them. It is about changing that mentality.

“Young people need positive role models and safe spaces in the community and it needs to be consistent - not just until funding runs out.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

A pistol seized by police in Sheffield in 2020.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings
A pistol seized by police in Sheffield in 2020.
Abbeydale Road: Sahira Irshad.
Abbeydale Road shooting: The scene outside Honeypot crafts.