Residents of a Sheffield estate which had been linked with drug gangs ‘running riot’ have defended it as a safe and pleasant place to live.
Community leaders in Sharrow had spoken out before Christmas about what they claimed was escalating violence in the area, much of which they said was going unreported.
They told how children as young as 12 from the suburb were being exploited to run drugs, and they claimed the dealing centred around the Lansdowne estate as it offered criminals plenty of escape routes.
But Lansdowne Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) says reports of trouble on the estate have been grossly exaggerated.
In a lengthy statement, the group said: “The exceptional thing about the Lansdowne estate is not the levels of crime or drug taking, but how few issues there are for an inner-city estate.
“The TARA and the majority of residents we interact with enjoy living on the estate.
“Like all areas, it has it's problems, but they're not excessive. We understand that statistically crime is down in the area.
“We are aware there have been several notable violent incidents on streets adjacent to the estate last year, but we are unaware of any connection to Lansdowne.”
The group said the biggest concern for most people living on the estate was low-level anti-social behaviour like noise, litter and fly-tipping.
Members admitted long-time residents had noticed ‘changes’ but claimed this was not unique to the estate, with communities everywhere feeling the impact of austerity measures.
They said there had been a ‘few incidents’ of needles being found but the extent of discarded syringes was not considered to be ‘severe’.
They also praised police in the neighbourhood as ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’, and said they were confident officers were taking crime in the area seriously.
“We feel supported by the police, Sheffield Council and our local councillors, who are all working together to make Lansdowne an even safer place to live,” the group added.
The group said they would like to see more activities for young people on the estate, and members urged organisations to take advantage of the council-run meeting room which is available to hire.
They also pointed out the positive side of life on the estate, saying tests last year had shown air quality there to be good and describing how they were working with Pictorial Meadows to create a wildflower meadow to brighten up the area and encouraging wildlife to flourish.
A man was shot last September on Wostenholm Road, close to the Lansdowne estate, three months after a gun was fired at a house on the same street.
Community leaders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claimed many other serious crimes were going unrecorded because members of the public were too scared to report them.
Police said before Christmas they were carrying out ‘targeted action’ in the area, including extra foot patrols and work to better engage with residents and community groups.