Council maintenance workers have reportedly been ‘banned’ from working alone in a Doncaster town blighted by gang violence, after it was branded too dangerous by police.
Following a flare-up in tensions between two warring groups – identified by police as the Windhill Warriors and PSB ‘gangs’ – petrol bombs, machetes, and baseball bats have all been used on the streets of Mexbo- rough over the past few weeks.
Officers have also charged 21 individuals, all thought to belong to the two gangs, with a variety of offences including violent disorder, grievous bodily harm and possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.
And now, Inspector Richard Collingwood, of South Yorkshire Police, has confirmed Doncaster Council employees sent to work in the Windhill Estate, Schofield Street and Oliver Street areas may have to be given a police escort, after local authority staff were recently threatened by ‘groups in hoodies’.
Mr Collingwood told a community meeting this week that police had already escorted council employees working in the area.
He spoke out after a resident at the meeting claimed she had been told by a council health and safety officer someone could not be sent to repair a broken street light, because the authority had placed a ‘ban’ on working in the area, due to the recent instances of violence.
She said: “He said there was nothing they could do, because the police said it wasn’t safe to send someone.
“If police think it’s too dangerous to send the council, then why aren’t they doing more to make it safer for us who have always lived there?”
Mr Collingwood said no ban had been placed on the area as such, but admitted there was a large amount of unrest and police officers had also been seriously threatened by groups on the streets.
He also confirmed officers have received reports of the use of bomb devises made using gunpowder from fireworks.
A council spokesman said they were aware of an incident in which staff had been threatened, but stressed they did not class Mexborough or any other part of the borough as being ‘no-go’ areas.
Karen Johnson, council assistant director of communities, said: “It is not true that council staff are being told to stay away from certain areas in Mexborough, or that they require a police escort to visit some neighbourhoods.
“In some cases, we do request additional support from the police when conducting potentially sensitive work and this is available across Doncaster, including in Mexborough.
“There has recently been a large-scale police operation in Mexborough, and 21 people have been charged as a result. We have issued criminal behaviour orders on five people, while orders are pending on eight others.
“I would like to reassure residents that ourselves and South Yorkshire Police are taking these incidents extremely seriously and community safety remains a priority.”
A number of residents in attendance at the meeting said they felt ‘safe’ in Schofield Street, but said they were concerned about police not responding when there is a threat of violence.
It comes after an incident in Schofield Street last month, when residents claim about 40 people from other areas of Mexborough gathered armed with machetes, baseball bats, guns, knives and swords.
A police spokesman said: “We have increased our presence in Mexborough, including extra officers on patrol, while mounted officers and various other police resources have been deployed into the town, to provide reassurance to residents and to be able to immediately respond should any incidents occur.
“We are treating all of the incidents, which we believe have all been targeted attacks between two groups, as a priority and we have arrested and charged a number of the individuals involved.
“This concerted effort will continue as we will not tolerate unrest in our town.
“We would encourage and support all residents to report any issues anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or call us on 101 if they have any concerns.”