Police in Sheffield insist they can 'robustly respond' to rising gang violence and gun crime in city

Senior police officers have insisted they have the resources “to respond effectively and robustly” to gang violence and gun crime that has been blighting an area of inner city Sheffield.

Areas around Abbeydale Road, one of the main arterial routes into Sheffield, have seen a sharp rise in shootings and violent attacks, particularly since last summer.

South Yorkshire Police moved to reassure the public in light of a forthcoming ‘Enough is Enough’ march organised by community group Mums United Sheffield to express frustration at a continuing cycle of violence in the Abbeydale Road area.

Sheffield’s district commander, Temporary Chief Superintendent Shelley Hemsley, also said there had been a recent “shift in the community” with more people prepared to come forward with valuable information.

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Areas around Abbeydale Road, one of the main arterial routes into the city, have seen a sharp rise in shootings and violent attacks, particularly since last summer.

Mums United Sheffield Walk for Peace event in 2019

South Yorkshire Police said a major investigation into a series of shootings in the area between July and September last year had disrupted organised criminal activity and yielded 15 arrests and the recovery of a dozen firearms.

But there have been two further recent shootings relatively close to the Abbeydale Road area, one fatal, prompting concerns violence may again escalate as the Covid lockdown is eased.

Temp Chief Supt Hemsley said: “I absolutely understand concerns raised by Mums United who are a passionate voice in their community, and a vital ally in our work to tackle violent crime in this part of the city.

“Over the last year we have seen a number of incidents involving firearms, the majority of which are a result of the actions of organised crime groups… Whilst the incidents often involve those engaged in organised crime, the impact on public safety is felt much more widely.

“I want to reassure the public that we have significant resources available to respond effectively and robustly, and I want people to know that officers are working to disrupt this type of criminality every single day.”

She added: “Over recent months we have seen a shift in the community, more people are speaking to us, more people are sharing information, and this must continue. It sounds simple, but the more details we have, the more arrests we can make.”

The ‘Enough is Enough’ march, on 22 May, has been organised by Mums United Sheffield to challenge the level of violence which has, at the same time, become one of the trendiest in the city with an increasing array of cafes, bars and niche shops.

Founder Sahira Irshad said: “It is something that is continuously happening in our community. We really want to make a more determined effort to get our voices heard. So many people have been affected by this violence.”

The area has a significant Asian population and Ms Irshad said the tight-knit nature of the community meant there was a potential “domino effect” following violent incidents.

She added: ““If one boy is affected, it involves 10 or 20 boys that he knows and they are involved. The police know exactly who these people are, they know all the gangs. The community and police need to work hand in hand, there needs to be a relationship between the two.

“There needs to be more foot patrols, there needs to be more of a bridging of a gap between the community and the police so we get to the point where we are working hand in hand together.”

The Enough is Enough march starts at 3pm on Saturday, May 22, at Heeley People’s Park in Sheffield.