Target: Burngreave

Story by Rob Smith

On 4th January 2006 we received reports of a large police presence in the Spital Hill area. At around 11.30am the following day we witnessed five uniformed police units station themselves on Brunswick and Burngreave Roads, Spital and Earsham Streets, Bressingham Road North and Spital Hill.

Flashing blue lights signalled the Volvo T5s pulling up to every occupied vehicle, whether stationary or being driven through our community. I spoke to local shops and businesses to get their reactions to the activities.

Andrea’s Barbers told me they’d witnessed this large police activity on three consecutive days.

“Why? I’ve no idea Rob! They pulled over a nice local kid who’d just parked outside, and the kid isn’t a gangster or troublemaker, just a man getting on with his life. He was searched in full view of the shop and the public. Not good for business, all those passers by on buses seeing the area targeted in this way. It was like an image from 1930’s Nazi Germany. Not a positive one for this community.”

The Plaza Espresso Café proprietors could see no apparent reason for such a police presence: “I began to wonder why we were being heavily policed in this way. Nobody’s saying the police shouldn’t do their job, but this seems a bit excessive. Raising the question: are we easy targets? If it’s numbers they’re looking to rack, let’s hope they do the same in S10.”

Spiritual Wines proprietor observed a woman being stopped in her vehicle and searched outside his shop. “The next time that woman wants a packet of cigarettes or a drink she’ll keep driving past my shop. It’s been bad enough for us with that oneway system, without police behaving like an army on terrorist alert.”

Hobson’s Butchers said he’d no idea what it was about. “But if it was for good reason, then that’s fair enough. But when people see all that, it upsets them and that isn’t good for business.”

Lee’s Appliances suggested they could be spending money better: “I’ve no idea why they’ve targeted this area. But what we need is police walking about, talking friendly to local people, reassuring them they do matter.”

Staff at Ladbrokes saw five or six police searching one suspect vehicle. “It was just random and they let most of the occupants they searched go.” One staff member was bold enough to say: “That kind of policing is stupid and not good for this area”.

Malii Café’s proprietor told us he’d been informed of a crackdown and search for drivers without legal documentation: “That’s what officers told some of my clientele”.

I asked Inspector Jon Ekwubiri why Spital Hill, being culturally sensitive, had been the target of the large police operation – was just to rack up numbers?

“No Rob, we’ve done this in other places like Wensley, Firth Park, Fir Vale, Wincobank and Shiregreen (which are my areas) and this sort of operation is done in others all over South Yorkshire. Burngreave has had many problems in the past, with a bad reputation, but today it’s one of the safest areas of the city.

“If we get intelligence that there’s a problem of a particular sort, then we will hit that place hard. It is imperative that the actions we take are reasonable, proportionate and, most importantly, lawful. If my colleagues received intelligence that someone was moving through an area, then an operational order will be put in place and acted on immediately.”

Asked if that meant the police were searching for somebody, the Inspector said:

“Well I wasn’t here at the time and that information maybe very sensitive.”

Do you think local shop keepers and law abiding people affected by this deserve some sort of apology?

“I don’t think the police need to apologise for doing their job, especially when intelligence

dictates what we had to do. On saying that, if this has caused inconvenience we apologise for any caused.”

<< | Up | >>

Print version

The content on this page was added to the website by Jamie Marriott on 2016-10-25 02:20:01.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2016-10-25 02:24:05.

Follow us on Twitter @TheBMessenger

All content is copyright © Burngreave Messenger Ltd. or its voluntary contributors, unless otherwise stated, not to be reproduced without permission. If you have any comments, or are interested in contributing to the Messenger and getting involved, please contact us.

Burngreave Messenger Ltd. Abbeyfield Park House, Abbeyfield Road, Sheffield S4 7AT.
Telephone: 0114 242 0564. Email:
Company Limited by Guarantee: 04642734
Registered Charity: 1130836

The Burngreave Messenger is a community newspaper with editorial independence, funded by the Big Lottery, Foyle Foundation, Trusthouse Charitable Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Scurrah Wainwright Charity, local residents and our advertisers.

Help the Messenger with a donation