Sheffield walking group forced to end after yobs hurl 'fat' abuse at members
A walking group has been forced to end after members wereÂ targeted by abusive yobs - the latest in a spate of attacks that has left a community living in fear.
About a dozen friends and neighbours formed the club in Shiregreen as a way of losing weight and keeping fit during the summer evenings.
But they have been forced to cancel the group only a few months after forming after yobs repeatedly hurled abuse, including calling them 'fat', as they walked through the streets.
A member of the group told how this is the latest on a long line of anti-social behaviour incidents, which has also seen knives being thrown at people walking their dogs and rocks hurled at vehicles.
The resident, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, told how a gang of about 20 unruly youths are to blame and added the situation is so bad it is time for police to introduce a curfew.
He said: "We started the group between friends to socialise and lose a bit of weight.
"But these youths are turning the area into a no-go zone. They started shouting abuse and swearing at us to try and get a reaction.
"We just put our heads down and carried on. But it got to the point where it wasn't worth it. We had some female members and they had to walk back past them on their own. It's awful."
He told how the youths, a mixture of teenage boys and girls, congregate outside shops on Hartley Brook Road every evening until about 10pm and have been causing problems for about 18 months.
He added: "I was walking my dog a couple of months ago and they threw a pen knife at me. It only just missed me.
"A couple of weeks ago they threw a brick through the window of a couple with a baby in the back. They were terrified."
He claimed taxi drivers refuse to visit the area at certain times, while two bus services were recently diverted away from nearby Butterthwaite Road after yobs hurled objects at the windows.
In addition to the recent spate, the area has also been at the centre of a series of serious crimes in the last 18 months.
A man was charged with attempted murder after a man in his 60s was shot during a break-in at his home in Hartley Brook Road in June last year.
In an unrelated incident a 25-year-old man was shot in the chest but survived during an attack in Butterthwaite Road in February this year.
The resident said he has lived in Shiregreen for more than 10 years but the string of serious offences has left him no other option but to look at moving away.
He added residents would even be scared to attend a public meeting to discuss the issues and called for drastic action from police.
He said: "You wouldn't want to advertise a meeting because these yobs would turn up and god know's what would happen.
"The police need to look at dispersal orders and a curfew. This whole thing is causing house prices to depreciate and insurance is going higher. The police need to sort it out."
Peter Price, councillor for Shiregreen and Brightside, said ward members recently met with police who reassured them that patrols would be increased.
He added: "We will look at organising another meeting with police and the issue of dispersal orders is worth examining. We had problems about 10 years ago and the dispersal orders worked.
"I don't think a curfew would work as it's not fair on the good kids. But the situation is unacceptable and we will work together to resolve it."
Inspector Chris Lewis said officers have been conducting increased patrols and said members of the public can expect to see more bobbies on the beat again generally this week as the force is putting more resources into neighbourhood policing.
He added: "Work is also ongoing with our partners at the council to identify and implement longer-term plans to prevent disruption caused to by this type of behaviour."