'Man with machete left us terrified', Doncaster residents worried about their estate say

A worried resident has told of her fear after an incident which saw a man with a machete threaten people on her estate.

By David Kessen
Monday, 24th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd March 2020, 10:53 am

It was one of a number of incidents raised at a high profile public meeting with police at Askern Miners Welfare designed to show officers the scale of local concerns over crime in the former pit village.

Around 50 people packed the main hall at the venue, with Doncaster’s elected mayor Ros Jones among those attending.

They told Sgt Mike Miles, from South Yorkshire Police about a string of concerns ranging from drugs dealing to violence and antisocial behaviour – but officers warned that unless people tell them about incidents they cannot act.

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After resident John McLoughlin had opened the meeting, one young woman told of her concerns about living in the village.

She said: “I keep myself to myself, and I’m a single woman living on my own. My sister visited recently and was strapping her baby into the car while someone was at the other end of the car trying to steal her handbag.”

She went on to reveal her concerns about an occasion which had seen a man roaming the streets of her estate with a machete.

She said: “There is an area which is rife with drugs. I saw a random bloke walking round the estate with a machete, threatening other drugs dealers.

“We are trying to get on with our lives. We shouldn’t have to see people threatened with machetes. Why should we have to accept that? When I first moved into my flat I loved it.

She wept as she added: “During the last 18 months it’s gone down and down. I don’t feel safe in my own home.”

Mr McLoughlin had outined a string of crimes that were on the agenda for the meeting, called by Askern Neighbourhood Watch Association after members raised concerns over a sudden increase in crime and antisocial behaviour in their area.

He said: “I the last few weeks, we have seen nine antisocial behaviour issues, including quad bikes spraying mud around. We know of 12 burglaries in the last few weeks, which is a big increase in what we usually get. This is through social media – we don’t now how much of this has been reported to police.

“We have also seen an incident of drugs reported online, but we think it is a far greater issue.”

There were also concerns over theft, criminal damage and arson, shoplifting and and public order offences.

One concerned resident said: “We find it hard to accept that there are known shoplifters that still roam the streets here.”

Derek Collins, another resident, raised concerns over the large quantities of nitrous oxide capsules that were seen in the village. “How are young people getting these?” he asked.

One resident added: “There are a lot of people in this village who are talking now about taking things into their own hands.”

But Askern Town Council chairman Francis Jackson added: “We don’t want vigilantes in Askern. The criminality in this area is running riot because the criminals feel the police are not there.”

Concerns were also raised about antisocial behaviour in nearby Campsall.

Sgt Mike Miles urged residents to tell the police about crime, saying that at present the police crime statistics did not reflect the story he was being told at the meeting. He urged them to call CrimeStoppers or log crimes online if they were having problems getting through on the 101 non emergency number.

He said police had been limited in the numbers of officers that they had been able to have in neighbourhood policing because of cuts to officer numbers over the last 10 years. They had a small teambased on three Pcs and nine PSCOs.

But it was vital that people reported crime to police, not just on local social media pages.

“We need better intelligence to make the best use of the resourses that we have,” he said.

“People need to report all incidents. If something is life threatening or offenders are still there, call 999.”

He said if they had the information, police had the power to close properties down through closure notices, and there were long terms measures that could be put in place, but they needed to have the information in place to do that.

“We will search houses and arrest people for drug dealing, but if we can’t if we’ve not got the intelligence to go to a magistrate and tell them we want to do something. Tell us, use Crimestoppers, whatever works for you to get the information through.

“If doors need putting through, tell us,”

He said community officers had been in the village three times a week recently.

He said officers had visited Askern Lake for a week after a fire had been reported there.

But one resident praised officers for arresting two suspects recently after he had been a victim of a robbery.

As a result of the meeting, officers are now looking to have an officer visit for regular drop-ins in the village, with the dates due to be arranged.

A box for information to be dropped off in the library was also proposed, by Sgt Miles raised concerns that it may be difficult to judge how reliable some of the information was from that source.