Hopes of new police base as crackdown launched on nuisance and drugs at Sheffield park
Locals feel it should be a peaceful haven at the heart of a bustling Sheffield Community.
But shopkeepers and residents say Ellesmere Green, in Burngreave, has been far from that recently.
Now police have told how they are hoping to turn things around in the small park near Ellesmere Road, with a community fun day the latest step in a fight which could also see a permanent police base in a building nearby.
The fun day was held last Wednesday, with music, stalls and food. Police and other public and health services joined the event which aimed to reclaim the green.
In the last few months, locals say residents have been scared away from the park by drug abusers. Others talk of fights.
Locals say they have seen people just lying down in the park after using the drug ‘spice’.
Eid Dualeh ran the Daad Dheere supermarket on Ellesmere Road for nearly 20 years.
But he quit the business this year because of the pressure the nuisance behaviour had put on it.
He said there was sometimes fighting going on nearby as early as 5am.
He said: “I sold it. I had run the business since 2004, and it was successful at first, but not for the last three or four years. I did not have the customers, because everyone has been scared because of the drug taking and the fighting that has been going on here. They push the customers away.
“We want these people moving away.”
Shopkeeper Mohammed Ahmed, who runs Ellesmere Food and News, agrees. He said: “We complain all the time. The last time we told the police that anti-social behaviour makes it difficult for us.
“Some customers are scared. There are sometimes 10 or 20 people begging for money from people, and that makes it hard for us. They have not attacked people, but they’re drunk and asking for money, and asking people to buy things for them.
“The fun day here today will help, and people all working together is a good thing.”
Among those enjoying the event was Ahmed Ali, who lives 10 minutes walk away.
He said: “It’s nice here, and an event like this will help. But I would like to see the community officers here more, to push the drug takers away. They see police down here and don’t come back. I think there needs to be a community officer down here a couple of times a week, and that would be enough.
“There is a cash machine at the Post Office here. But people will not use it because they’re scared.”
South Yorkshire Police Sergeant Ben Hall was among those at the fun day this week, with members of his neighbourhood policing team.
He said: “We have met with the community over the problem that we have had over here. They have expressed concern over drug use and anti-social behaviour.
“There have been complaints about people urinating in the park, and it has led to local residents feeling they are not able to use it.
“I’ve been sergeant for the area for three years, and we’ve seen ups and downs in terms of the amount of anti-social behaviour that we see here.
“We engage with people at the park quite a bit. They sometimes move on and it becomes a nicer place again. But the issue is starting to rear its head again.
“There was a group of locals who liked to sit down here, but the feedback has been that they were getting too scared to come here.
“But we have had some good results here. We have recovered both weapons and class A and class B drugs and a number of arrests have been made while we have been focusing on the patch.
“We are here every day that we’re working, although we cannot be here all the time, and sometimes people may see things when we are not here.”
There was once a police station in Burngreave, at Brunswick Road. That closed down years ago, but officers have been bringing in a temporary ‘pop-up’ police station, in the park, inside a small gazebo.
There have been talks recently between police and council officials about the possibility of using an empty building on the nearby Carwood estate as a local base for police.
At present, officers are based at Ecclesfield, and have to travel in.
It is understood work would be needed to be done to make the building usable.
Sgt Hall agreed there had been some displacement of people who had previously been seen as a problem in the town centre, who had moved on to Ellesmere Green because it was another shopping area.
He said police were trying to get to the root of the problem, and stop the misuse of drugs that was causing it.
The fun day included services such as substance misuse workers, who help people with drug problems.
“We’re trying to solve the problem, not just move it on,” he said.
“We feel this fun day has been a success, showing the community it is their park and sending a message to people who have been using it for the wrong reasons.”
He said he had spoken to residents and hoped he had made them feel confident to get in touch. He said people could message him on [email protected] or on 07557 254870.
Resident and Burngreave ward councillor Safiya Saeed agreed the event had been useful, and said she was also keen to see the police move into a building on the Carwood estate.
“Carwood needs a lot of help," she said. “But no matter where we put the police, a lot depends on how well they gel with the community. But 100 per cent, I would like them to have a local base – I support anything that would make residents feel safer.”