Youth workers and CCTV for Stapleford park linked to knife and drug crime

Former gang members are working with young people in Stapleford to halt a rise in knife and drug problems in and around a local park.

Residents are concerned that Hickings Lane Recreation Ground is becoming a hot-spot for trouble.

Broxtowe Borough Council is now planning to spend £25,000 before the end of 2021 on a number of mobile CCTV cameras and better lighting to make the area feel safer.

The cameras will also move to other areas of concern such as Beeston Fields, where some young people have been caught throwing stones and shouting abuse at residents.

The local authority has also recruited The Chayah Project, based in St Ann’s, which have worked with young people and their families to drive down knife crime in the city.

Made up of former gang members turned outreach workers, the project aims to offer support to young people who frequent the park at night.

The council said action needed to be taken after the death of former Nottingham College pupil, Joe Whitchurch.

The 16-year-old was stabbed in Hickings Lane on Boxing Day and died three days later at Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre.

Jake Rollinson, 20, of Hickings Lane, Stapleford, has pleaded not guilty to murder and a trial is due to be held this month.

And in a seperate incident on August 5, a 20-year-old man was also found bleeding near the junction of Ilkeston Road and Hickings Lane following reports of a knife attack in Wagtail Close.

Two men, aged 20 and 23, have been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Councillor Stephen Carr (Lib Dem), deputy leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “The plan is mobile CCTV so we can move it around.

“If it is fixed, they migrate to where they can’t be seen. We also want to improve lighting. The skatepark is not well-lit so people can do things other than skateboarding.

“CCTV never catches anyone, it just deters, but lighting makes a big difference. It will make people feel safer. The death of that lad was an absolute tragedy.

“The park has had a lot of money thrown at it over the last few years but still not got rid of the anti-social behaviour so we are putting things in place to combat it.”

Cllr Jan Goold (Cons), who represents Stapleford North, said: “CCTV is not always effective, but it is a deterrent. It is not just a deterrent, but it makes people feel safer. But it does not stop the criminality – that is a much bigger problem and that is where the aim should be.”

Project manager Hyacinth Francis-Watson of The Chayah Project, said it would like a permanent base in Stapleford in the future.

She said young people are asking ‘for things to do’ with plans to set up kickboxing classes and other activities to move them away from crime.

She said: “Most of the kids in trouble up there have been excluded from school. They are isolated because they do not come into the city.

“If it is not stemmed it will get worse.

“Mums are struggling up there as well. Their children are getting into trouble, and they have nowhere to go. They are at their wits’ end.”

By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

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