‘We need CCTV and more police’ claim residents in troubled Sheffield area

Abbeydale Road, Sheffield.
Abbeydale Road, Sheffield.
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A blitz on anti-social behaviour on a Sheffield road plagued by noisy yobs and vandalism has had mixed results, according to business owners.

Police launched a dispersal order banning groups of youths from congregating in the Abbeydale Road area six weeks ago.

Abbeydale Road antisocial behaviour

Abbeydale Road antisocial behaviour

It came after reports of businesses being burgled, youngsters speeding up streets on noisy quad bikes and groups hanging around the streets and throwing stones.

A dispersal order was put in place at the end of May covering from Bramall Lane, part of Sharrow Lane, Wostenholm Road down to Archer Lane and just beyond Carter Knowle Road until November.

The order means gathering in a group in the street is banned – and those failing to heed warnings could be arrested.

Police claim they have already seen a reduction in complaints of anti-social behaviour after making ‘several high-profile arrests’.

The Star went to Abbeydale Road to investigate.

“I don’t see any difference lately. They are still gathering in groups,” said Lakshmi Kanchana, of D&V Convenience Store, who said she no longer staffs the shop at night due to her fear of gangs of youths.

She added: “Kids come in in groups and stay in the shop late at night.

“I am afraid to be in the shop at night and I don’t do it any more.

“I don’t think the police can do anything. If I say something to them, they say ‘call the police’. They are sure that if I call the police, they won’t come.

“They are not afraid of police.”

Kawa Sideeq, of Albarakah Convenience Store, said: “They take stuff from the shop. It happens every day, young kids and children.

“Even when parents are with them, they see them take things and they don’t say anything.

“I had £12,000 of items taken from the back of the shop about a year ago.

“A flat down the road left its third floor window open, they went in and took things. That’s what they are like – they are professional.

“I don’t think it has got any better.”

But others say they appreciate the police’s extra focus on the area, which they say is becoming more upmarket thanks to the efforts of some businesses.

Mark Beech, of Beech House on Abbeydale Road, said: “There has always been a problem with drugs around here.

“While it is not as bad as it used to be, it is still here.

“We have been in the road about 15 years and we were further up the road before. There used to be a horrendous problem with drug dealing in the back alley behind the premises.

“The road is starting to lift and therefore it’s starting to be a nicer place to be.

“If you go back to five years ago, the place was quite in the doldrums.

“There are people who sit and drink all day. They are not causing a problem, just congregating and drinking in the street.

“There are still groups of people around and driving on quad bikes going up and down the road, so it doesn’t seem to have stopped yet.

“I think it is getting a little better but it has had a very bad reputation. It needs clearing up.

“Abbeydale Road itself is coming up at the moment, we have seen quite a number of new businesses coming to the road, and there’s no doubt that it’s becoming an area where people want to do business.

“We still have the underlying issues that the road has always had.

“There’s a certain amount of gang culture here, a drug culture over many years, and there have been a number of police initiatives to try to stop people hanging around in groups to make the area slightly more socially acceptable and make people want to come down here, and as a business person that’s exactly what we want to try to achieve.

“We have a multi-racial community here that gets on very well. All members of the business community want to work together to make sure the road is cleaned up, that people feel safe and feel happy to be on Abbeydale Road.

“Over the last few years things have got better. If police could be concentrated in this area for a period of time to ensure it’s all cleaned up, then I think it can only benefit Abbeydale Road and the surrounding areas.”

The owner of Arusuva restaurant, who wanted to be named only as Mr Thanguray, called for more police patrols and CCTV cameras after yobs smashed the windows of his business.

He said: “On Bonfire Night last year kids threw stones at our window and smashed it.

“There are often 15 to 20 kids in the park throwing stones. If you are around after 6pm you see them hanging around in groups in the street. It is happening every single day.

“We don’t go through the park at night, me and my wife. We always walk all the way around the park to get home.

“We need CCTV cameras in the street and police on patrol in the park.”

Mark Jameson, of Jameson’s Café and Tea Rooms on Abbeydale Road, was the victim of a break-in a few weeks ago but praised the way police are trying to cut down on crime in the area.

He said: “They took a computer and some float money and caused some damage.

“But it’s not as bad as it used to be. It seems to be getting a bit better.

“We leave the shop late in the evening and I haven’t seen any people hanging about.

“There are a few people driving around on bikes but it seems a bit better.

“We have just spoken to police and they said ‘if you see anything, call us any time and we will come out’.

“I know there are cuts and the police can’t be here 24/7 but if the shop owners report things when they happen, they can do something about it.”

Police say their action against anti-social behaviour is going well and they have made several high-profile arrests – but it is too early to tell how much of a long-term impact the scheme has had.

Woodseats Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Ian Stubbs said: “So far, from our perspective, it’s going very well.

“We have certainly seen a big decrease in the number of complaints of anti-social behaviour from where we were before.

“We have made a number of big arrests, three individuals who are some of the main players in the trouble we have been having.

“We have put in a significant amount of resources. We have additional patrols on a daily basis.

“In my experience, we don’t see the evidence of the change for three or four months.

“There is an initial period of time which is about trying to change behaviour – it’s still a little bit early.

“We have given talks at schools, made arrests and spread the message about the consequences of anti-social behaviour, that there is a consequence to their actions.

“The consequence is that because of the dispersal order we can now disperse the people involved or they are going to get arrested.”