‘No-go area’ sparks tears and anger at meeting about crime in Sheffield suburb

Local residents from Darnall  at the public meeting held at the Pavillion ,Darnall
Local residents from Darnall at the public meeting held at the Pavillion ,Darnall
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THE son of a Sheffield woman sexually assaulted by two men in a terrifying early morning attack wept at a public meeting and told police he wanted “justice” for his mum.

He spoke out at a heated meeting in Darnall, where residents questioned police officers about the way they are dealing with crime following the sex attack and a recent stabbing.

Around 80 angry and concerned residents crammed into The Pavilion in Mather Road to voice their concerns about crime in Darnall - with some branding the suburb “a no-go area”.

The meeting was organised after a 41-year-old woman reported being sexually assaulted by two men who struck on land just off Greenland Road, towards Greenland Way, between 2.45am and 3.45am on Sunday January 30.

During the same week a 28-year-old man was stabbed on Staniforth Road.

Residents also claim there is prostitution, drug problems, and gangs of youths intimidating local people, forcing some to live like prisoners in their own homes because they are too afraid to walk the streets alone.

There was loud applause when a resident questioned police representatives about the lack of officers seen on the streets of Darnall since the sex attack, and clapping again when another asked why it took South Yorkshire Police three days to disclose details of the assault.

Julie Lindley, who lives in Darnall and runs a business there, said: “That should have been in the papers first thing Monday morning to make everyone aware – surely prevention is better than cure.”

Speaking afterwards she said: “Why was this violent crime not publicised by the police straight away? From a safety point of view we all have families, and if we are informed we can take precautions.”

One woman who saw a police officer guarding the taped-off crime scene said she was shocked when she asked what had happened.

“The police were standing where it happened – I asked the police officer what happened and was told, ‘I can’t tell you’. He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious’.

“When I found out, I was livid – I am a woman, it’s very serious. I was disgusted at that.”

The victim’s son, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had to be comforted and was led away from the meeting when he broke down in tears after speaking out about the attack, which he described as a rape.

“The woman who got raped is my mum,” he wept. “I need to get justice for her.”

David Williamson, 53, of Greenwood Drive, also voiced his concerns about crime.

He said: “I feel intimidated when I walk down Darnall on my own. People will not come forward and report things because they are intimidated and frightened – you would get your windows smashed and cars damaged.”

He was backed by people calling for more CCTV cameras to be installed to monitor behaviour on the streets.

Chief Inspector Iain Chorlton, responsible for policing east Sheffield, said further meetings would be held to discuss community concerns.

He said the delay in going public with details of the sexual assault was down to the “complexities” of investigating such crimes in the first hours and days after a report.

He said it was “a key challenge” for police to be visible on the streets - and the situation was “not going to get any better” because of funding cuts leading to job losses.

But speaking after the meeting he said he had tasked officers with increasing police patrols in the area.