Story by Richard Belbin
Burngreave TARA hosted a busy and passionate meeting at the Vestry Hall on September 25th to highlight their concerns over the extent of drug use on and around Ellesmere Green. The summer months have seen a significant increase in the number of people appearing to be using, selling, or under the influence of illegal substances.
Many local residents at the meeting spoke of how they were afraid to go out around the green, especially in an evening. One woman said how she has to go and collect her daughter, who works at the large Tesco, to bring her home as she didn’t feel safe walking even that short distance. Others spoke of their frustration at police inaction, with drug dealers simply waiting until any police left the area before openly starting selling again.
Sergeant Ben Hall, from the Burngreave Neighbourhood Policing Team, detailed how the police are trying to respond. This includes 150 ‘stop and searches’ which led to thirty arrests for drugs and weapons, and twenty-five successful prosecutions.
One of the key issues for SYP is that people do not report incidents in the first place, either because they assume someone else has, or because they are afraid to. But without those calls, no action will be taken. Anyone can call in anonymously via 999, 101, or calling the team directly on 0114 296 4204.
Other options are also being explored by various local agencies, including the council’s Drug and Alcohol team. They are providing workers in the area to talk with users, and to uncover any underlying issues they face, rather than simply concentrating on stopping drug use.
There were questions raised about whether the existence of a needle exchange so close to the green helped, and even whether providing more services might actually lead to more users coming into the area.
There were also positive steps proposed, for improving cooperation between agencies and further support for youth projects, such as the Pitsmoor Youth Group or the SY-NC Project, bringing groups together to support young people and families to make positive life choices.