Worries over area’s crime and tensions

CONCERNED: Coun Khizar Iqbal.
CONCERNED: Coun Khizar Iqbal.

CRIME and anti-social behaviour are becoming major problems in Thornhill Lees, according to one local councillor who has spoken out on the issue.

Coun Khizar Iqbal (Con, Dews South) has said that over the last 12 to 18 months, there had been a sharp rise in incidents of burglary, criminal damage and anti-social behaviour in the area.

His comments come days after a man died in hospital following a street fight in Victoria Road in Thornhill Lees. Two men have since appeared in court charged with Jack Carter’s murder.

Coun Iqbal said he wanted to see stronger police enforcement and more prosecutions to try and combat the rise in crime.

He said: “There is a lack of public confidence in the police, because people see this level of crime and they see a lack of any successful prosecutions.

“The crime is not being tackled, and I can understand why people are feeling the way they do. That concerns me and I’m sure it’s of concern to the police.”

According to police figures, in July there were 25 burglaries and 95 cases of anti-social behaviour in Thornhill Lees and its neighbouring areas of Thornhill and Savile Town.

Coun Iqbal said: “There is a lack of respect and discipline, an attitude of we can do what we like. There is no accountability.

“That’s something fundamental that needs to change. The community needs to stand up and say ‘we don’t want this’ and the government needs to provide resources for the police to do their job.”

He also acknowledged that perceived inequalities between areas like Thornhill and Savile Town can flare up racial tensions.

He said: “The problem sometimes is that we do not acknowledge that there are serious issues of segregation and, rightly or wrongly, this perception that funding is not distributed fairly.

“We need to be honest and accept that we have these issues, and the best way to address them is to engage people.”

Larraine Longbottom, manager of Thornhill Lees Community Centre, believes governments over the last 30 years have failed communities like Thornhill Lees.

She said: “My personal take on it is that we live in an area of high disadvantage, with fourth generation unemployment.

“I’ve worked in some really bad areas but the people here are different. They don’t have any hope.

“But I think this area is up and coming. I really think if we can do more youth work here it will help. All I need is more money to put on more sessions.”

Insp Jenny Thompson said: “We are aware that there are issues of anti-social behaviour, some with a racial element, however these issues are no worse than you would find in other areas across the county.”

She said police had a cohesion plan and had held events to bring communities together. She urged local people to support the police to improve relationships.

Det Insp Dave Stainthorpe said there had been a number of convictions for burglary in the area.