Story and photos by Fran Belbin
Many residents have been relieved to see an increased police presence around Spital Hill and Ellesmere Green following a series of violent incidents, including a shooting and stabbings.
A 22 year old man from Burngreave has been arrested in connection with the shooting. Police have also made arrests for possession of drugs and weapons.
On Friday 23rd June, Gill Furniss MP and local councillors visited Spital Hill and Ellesmere Green to listen to residents and business owners and show support for the police.
Councillor Talib Hussain told us, “We’ll be pulling together people from across the community in the next few days to look at ways to address these kinds of problems in the longer term.”
Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner and local resident Sioned Mair Richards joined the walkabout and explained that policing in Sheffield will be returning to a neighbourhood model from September, with officers specifically assigned to Page Hall and Burngreave.
This is intended to strengthen links between officers and locals so the police have more awareness of what is happening in the community.
In the short term a police team led by Sergeant Lee Kayne is based in Sorby House. Lee says:
“The Burngreave Problem-Solving Team along with the Tasking Team based in Attercliffe are taking proactive action to disrupt offenders engaged in drug supply activity in the area. Alongside this there are drop-in surgeries where the public can speak to their PCSO beat manager at Sorby House every Wednesday between 10am and 12pm.”
People on the streets were clearly pleased to see more police in the area for the time being. One woman said, “It’s good to have them around, we feel safer. It has felt scary the last few days.”
A Kurdish man told us:
“People are saying it’s this or that community that is to blame, but it’s not whole communities, it’s individuals who don’t want to keep to the law. No matter where you are from, we live here in the UK and we need to live by UK laws.”
However, some residents have shared concerns that the increased police presence around the main roads is pushing drug dealing and other anti-social behaviours into more residential areas. One resident complained to the Messenger about open drug dealing taking place at the end of his street, despite numerous calls to 101.
Such longer term issues may be addressed by the Police Now graduate initiative, aimed at working closely with the community to identify and address recurring problems. Nicholas Wood has been recruited via this initiative and will be based in Page Hall. The Community Trigger is another mechanism by which residents can ask agencies such as the local authorities and police to review how they respond to recurring incidents – more information is available at http://www.southyorks.police.uk/asbcommunitytrigger
However, better policing only goes so far to address anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and knife crime in the area. As Ellesmere Youth Project worker Imran Ali says:
“Work with young people in Burngreave is massively underfunded, we’ve been running to stand still in recent years. We need proper resources for activities, addiction services and decent jobs to steer people away from crime.”
Others have questioned the role of drug laws in pushing users into criminal behaviour.
If you have any information on crime in the area please call 101, report online at https://www.reportingcrime.uk or call anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.