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23rd Sep 2022

Inside ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ where yobs as young as 10 run riot and even tear live pigeons apart

Charlie Herbert

Britain's roughest estate

‘It’s like something from war-torn Ukraine’

Residents are living in fear on one of ‘Britain’s roughest estates’ where yobs as young as eight and nine have been running riot and even ripping live pigeons apart.

Blakenall, Walsall, has been compared to “war-torn Ukraine” after the area began falling into a state of disrepair during the past two years.

Youths as young as eight-years-old have been subjecting terrified residents and shopkeepers to racial and physical attacks on a daily basis, along with violence and anti-social behaviour.

Tormented residents and business owners are now demanding action following a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults and vandalism.

A local councillor also told how a live pigeon was even torn to pieces in front of horrified staff and customers outside a shop in the area.

Businesses have also been pelted with eggs, flour and bricks causing damage to property while buses, taxis and cars also routinely get attacked.

Other incidents include a fire started at a house which left a mum and her children too scared to return and a delivery driver who was hospitalised by a thrown bottle.

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area.

One local, who did not wish to be named, said: “We are scared to leave our homes even in the daytime.

“The place has just rapidly declined into almost a state of lawlessness since the pandemic.

“Before then we did have issues but not to the scale we are seeing now. The kids are running riot and they find it funny when police arrive.

“People are saying it’s the roughest estate in Britain and I’m not sure I could argue with that.

“But these kids will wear that like a badge of honour. It’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed around here.

“You see kids walking down the street with knives and smoking drugs – it’s just there is just no rules or order here.

“The list is just endless – you name a crime and I’ve probably seen it happening here. It has gone off the rails.”

A mum-of-seven, who did not want to be named, said the younger kids cause the most problems and “get a buzz from it when the police arrive – but the police end up running away because they get pelted with bricks.”

She continued: “So we don’t feel protected here. My daughter lives opposite where all the rubbish was and she had rats in her kitchen.

“It’s just diabolical – but that’s Blakenhall for you. It’s become a no-go zone for police and that is what is most worrying. You just don’t go out after 3pm.”

One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: “We’ve had our van window smashed just a couple of days ago.

“I have lost staff members who just can’t face being abused on a daily basis and now people are staying away so my trade has suffered too.

“They come in and steal eggs and then use those eggs to pelt the shop. We get racially abused too, we’ve just had enough.”

Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith said: “The residents, shoppers and shop staff cannot tolerate this situation any longer. These kids have simply been running riot.

He said the neighbourhood was like something from “war-torn Ukraine.”

“People are scared to walk the streets, shoppers are telling me they aren’t going into Blakenall anymore so shops are losing trade,” he continued.

“I’m told kids as young as eight or nine have been involved up to teenagers aged 14-17.

“There was also this poor pigeon that had its head ripped off outside a shop before they pulled its wings off and just ripped it to pieces.

“There’s shopkeepers being attacked and racially abused, houses being smashed up, schools being pelted with bottles. It just has to stop.

“A woman and her children had to flee their home after their house was set on fire, she’s moved out of the area as she’s too frightened to return.

He called for a “determined, collaborative and joined up approach with the police, council and housing associations.”

West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues and remove those identified as responsible.

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: “We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area.

“We understand how upsetting and worrying this can be and we have been carrying out extra patrols in the area to discourage further incidents and help with our on-going enquiries.

He added that there are plans for “further increased patrols along with “targeted action to curb this totally unacceptable behaviour.”

Gary Brookes, Walsall Housing Group’s director of housing, said: “We are really concerned about ongoing issues in this area regarding criminal activity and antisocial behaviour.

“Our empty properties on Dawson Street have been targeted by criminals which has prevented us from accessing them and led to them needing substantial repair work.

“We will be securing the site in the next few weeks and are looking at what additional steps we can take to prevent any further damage while we work on these properties.

He added that they were taking the situation in Dawson Street “very seriously.”

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