'We're not going to run away' Page Hall community leader vows as crime crackdown continues

Video report by Ben Bason.

A new team of police officers in Sheffield's Page Hall has made more than 70 arrests in its first year, but some residents say there are still big problems with crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

There were several high profile incidents of disorder in the neighbourhood after the first lockdown last year, with videos going viral online showing fights in the streets.

South Yorkshire Police set up a new team of officers for Page Hall in October 2020 to tackle some of the issues facing the area, which included breaches of coronavirus regulations.

But some residents say the problems haven't gone away and the neighbourhood is so rife with crime and anti-social behaviour they are even scared to leave their houses.

Joy has lived in Page Hall for 25 years but says it has changed beyond recognition.

She said: "It's horrendous. It's just out of control. People feel like they can't come out of their own homes. And they've got no peace in their own homes either. Those that are going to work are not getting any sleep. Some streets they are really really struggling. I feel so sorry for them - they can't sell their houses, they don't know what to do."

Some residents in Page Hall say they are scared to leave their own homes because crime and anti-social behaviour is so bad.

Locals say one alleyway, connecting Horndean Road and Idesworth Road, is a particular hotspot for trouble, with litter, fly tipping, gangs of people gathering and drug dealing.

Suhail Mahmood lives next door to it with his elderly mother.

He said: "It's got so bad now that we fear for our lives sometimes to come out. People might say - 'well, he's exaggerating there'. But we do. We do. Our families do not feel safe."

Since the launch of the new police team for Page Hall a year ago, stats show there have been 605 traffic offences committed in the area, officers have seized 235 vehicles and made 72 arrests.

The team of officers have taken over a terraced house in Page Hall which is open to the public once a week for people to report concerns.

Sgt Tony Cartlidge said: "We spoke with the residents when we first set up the team and one of the things they wanted to see was us visible in the area. We thought no better way than to open a house, tell them when it was open, and basically get them to come to us rather than us to go to them."

"We basically came in and we were quite ruthless to begin with, stopping plenty of cars, taking cars off uninsured drivers, stopping people driving like idiots.

Sgt Tony Cartlidge from Page Hall's new policing team says it's made a lot of progress in its first year.

"We've made quite a lot of progress. We've found that from the start there were quite a lot of issues and it's basically plateaued off and coming back down to normal levels now."

As well as the police, the council and the Fir Vale Community Hub have been trying to address issues in the area like social cohesion through litter picks and community network groups.

Usman Yousaf, Fir Vale Community Cohesion Coordinator, said: "We have to fight these problems and get there by working together. This is where we were born and we're proud of where we live and we will make it a better place to live. We're not going to run away, we're not going just say oh we'll move, no. We live here. We will be proud and we will make it a better place."

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings says engaging with people in the area is key.

Alan Blillings, South Yorkshire PCC said: "You can't simply have police officers arriving in police cars or on foot and doing all this enforcement work and going away again. You've got to build relationships with the community, which is why they've opened a Community House in Page Hall. People can drop in, get to know them, and see them. It's building that relationship so that they learn to trust the police and have confidence in the police.

"Many people who are there came originally from a country where perhaps there was no relationship with the police at all or it was a very bad one - they were often a persecuted minority. So we want to establish good relationships with the police and with the local community. "