The Sheffield community too scared to leave their homes for ‘being shot walking down the street’
"You might as well be in prison, we are frightened in our own homes."
Residents in a Sheffield suburb rocked by a spate of shootings and stabbings say they are living in fear of gang violence.
More than 50 members of the Arbourthorne community attended a public meeting on Wednesday (22 January) which was organised after a 12-year-old boy was shot in broad daylight.
The shooting is one of a number of firearm incidents and stabbings in the area in recent months.
Kelly and Chris Gurr from Arbourthorne were among many parents in attendance.
Kelly, 42, said: "We have two boys aged 14 and 13 and you don't know if your kids are going to come home from school or in one piece.
"There's been six different incidents involving shootings near us. It's like Beirut."
She added: "Even if I go out on my own my kids don't like it."
Chris, 48, added: "I've been in the area for 15 years and I've never known it this bad. You fear for your kids - what life are they going to have?
"It's nice to see the police presence, they are doing their best but a lot of people are asking why it's taken a 12-year-old boy to get shot for them to come in and start cracking down on this."
Another Arbourthorne resident, who did not want to be named, said: "Where are your kids safe to go?" And another woman living in the area claimed police failed to deal with a hate crime she reported to them.
Jen Jones, from Arbourthorne, was one of several mothers from the area who organised the meeting, which was attended by Louise Haigh MP, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings and Arbourthorne's councillor Ben Miskell, among other representatives from South Yorkshire Police and Sheffield City Council.
She said: "There would be more people here but people are scared."
Jen said the mothers took it upon themselves to organise the meeting after nobody else came forward to.
The mother of two added: "Obviously it's a risk that people could be targeted as a result of calling this meeting. However, the current situation in S2 is that you could get shot walking down the road."
Journalists in attendance were asked not to take pictures and video of people’s faces to ease residents’ fears over negative repercussions for those who turned up to the meeting.
Coun Miskell admitted gangs were a “problem” in Arbourthorne. He said: “It’s impacting lots of lives in a detrimental way. We are hearing loud and clear that people are frightened and are demanding action from the police.”
Addressing the room, Louise Haigh MP said: "People will feel understandably very anxious and will want to come together to hear updates."
But South Yorkshire Police's chief superintendent Stuart Barton told residents he was unable to provide additional information about the ongoing investigations, as he pleaded with them for their help.
He said: "We need your help if we are going to crack this. This is two rival groups and people in this room may know more about it. We can protect people there's no doubt about it but you need to open up."
"There are snippets of information out there about what's happened over the last few weeks and months and we need to know about them."
Chief superintendent Barton also confirmed the number of police working in Arbourthorne would be increased from six to nine on a long-term basis. Police have also been patrolling the area in numbers since the drive-by shooting of a 12-year-old boy on Sunday, January 12.