POLICE COMMANDERS have maintained they are winning efforts to ease cultural tension in a troubled South Yorkshire community despite a rise in reports of anti-social behaviour during warmer months.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed call-outs to such incidents in the policing area which covers Page Hall in Sheffield continue to drain resources over a year after trouble first flared between Eastern European migrants and existing residents.
Reports of anti-social behaviour rose from 777 in March, April and May in 2013 to 948 this year. However, June experienced a slight drop, from 356 in 2013 to 309 this summer. South Yorkshire Police say most call-outs concern low-level noise nuisance and it the figures reflect an increase in police presence which has encouraged more residents to contact officers with an issue.
The news comes following months of unrest and anti-social behaviour which began in 2013, after an influx of Slovakian Roma migrants struggled to integrate with the local community.
Superintendent Shaun Morley, who is responsible for policing in east Sheffield, said: “As a result of ongoing work with our partner agencies, there has been a huge improvement in community relations in the Page Hall area. Residents are now more confident to report issues to us.”
Statistics also show there were 9,481 actual crimes recorded in neighbourhood policing areas of North East Sheffield and Burngreave, both of which include Page Hall, during 2013. In the first five months of this year, 4,108 crimes were recorded.
More than £300,000 has been used to deploy a dedicated team of nine made up of one police sergeant, four constables and four police community support officers in the area for nine months.
Earlier this year, they were taught Romani in efforts to improve communication between police and the migrant community. Police introduced a dispersal order in a bid to move those suspected of causing trouble on from particular areas, but this has since been removed.
Supt Morley said: “We have a dedicated team of officers working in the area who have gained specialist skills to help them to better engage with the diverse community they serve. There has been a slight increase in reports of anti-social behaviour in the Burngreave safer neighbourhood area, which includes Page Hall.
“The majority of these reports relate to noise nuisance and this is something we are keen to tackle working alongside partner agencies.”
Sheffield Council has introduced more activities for young people, community litter picks and support work with families in the area in a bid to improve cohesion.
Deputy leader Coun Harry Harpham said: “We’re working hard to make sure that the different services are joined up and working effectively together and will continue to work with local people, building on the existing relationships we have and good work already taking place.”