Exasperated residents of Page Hall have doubts over high visibility police patrols, and have said the solution to the area’s problems lies in getting children off the streets.
Community champion Yasser Mohammed, who runs the Facebook group ‘ONLY IN PAGEHALL’, praised South Yorkshire Police’s efforts over the years, but said the relationship had soured.
Mr Mohammed has worked with the local authorities in Page Hall for 10 years in an attempt to unite the community, and said they had done a “tremendous job” of keeping control of crime.
But he said a major issue could be solved by organised youth groups for children who currently spend their days roaming the streets.
Other residents reported they see children as young as eight on street corners with nothing to do, and this has worsened over the lockdowns of the past year.
Mr Mohammed said Page Hall’s young residents desperately need sports centres, youth clubs and better parks, and vandalism and other antisocial behaviour would reduce as a result.
He suggested boxing in particular could be the key to tackling boredom and keeping kids out of trouble.
He said: “The most important thing about boxing is discipline and self-protection. It’s a confidence booster too.
I’ve taken kids off the street, taken them to boxing with my son, paid for them out of my own pocket and tried to build a relationship with them.
“But there’s only so much you can do independently.”
He advocates an approach of tackling the problem at the source, instead of simply filling Page Hall with police, suggesting funding should be allocated to adding a boxing gym to the community centre.
“It’s the evenings when all the kids come out. If they had a class at 8pm they’d get tired out and go home because they want to sleep” he said.
When asked whether he thought opening gyms should be a governmental priority on the roadmap out of lockdown he said: “Absolutely. I think it should be top of the list.”
Another Page Hall resident, Mr Ali, felt the community’s faith in the police was dwindling, and agreed more good would come from arranging activities for the younger generation.
He said: “I think the young have been forgotten.
“With a lack of funding and leadership they don’t have aspirations to excel, and they have nowhere to go to relax and unwind.”
He warned that children are at risk of falling into drugs and gang culture if something is not done soon.
Councillor Paul Wood, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety at Sheffield City Council said the council are working with South Yorkshire Police, local community groups and residents to address problems in Page Hall.
He said: “By drilling down to the root causes, and joining up our approach, we hope to see a notable difference.
“For instance, addressing education issues and leisure opportunities should ultimately have a positive impact on antisocial behaviour.”
Boris Johnson is due to set out plans for sports and clubs to resume this afternoon.