logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 32 - June 2003

Police Letter shocks youth and residents

Many residents in the Melrose/Burngreave Street area were shocked recently to receive a letter from the New Deal Police Squad, urging them to anonymously forward names of young people who gather around those streets.

The young people have caused some irritation in the area, but residents have been working with Com Rec, the Youth Services and LEA Family Support to get funding to provide constructive activities for the lads.

Residents were concerned that the letters, labelling the lads ‘the Melrose Bad Boys’ would undermine this positive work and simply move the young people on to cause trouble elsewhere.

From ‘The Melrose Road Bad Boys’
by Rob Smith

On hearing of a letter sent around my neighbourhood by our local Police Squad, I sought comments from those being referred to. The letter bestows the title ‘Melrose Road Bad Boys’ upon them and also asks for names and information on them and their associates. Seeing eight of the young lads, known by me to live around the Pitsmoor Adventure facility, I approached them.

“Yo! Youth Squad – wa’ g’wan” Dropping it street style, I’d enquired what was happening, my aim to get comments on the matter in hand and ask them a few questions. “Yo! Police are calling you lot ‘Melrose Road Bad Boys’. So what you saying about that then?”

“Na Rob, the police should back off. We’re not bad boys, we get bored and mess about sometimes, that’s it, you know us Rob!”

Knowing most of them for many years I could also see, with Walter Rodney accommodation, the cemetery and Playground situated together, this surely must create some sort of focal point.

“Yeah, we’re too old for the Adventure Playground and that means not much else,” added another, moving closer to the car. I asked about the letter’s claim of local people being assaulted and they swore to have had no part in any of that. Of course they all have friends and lots of people come about.

“But we can’t be responsible for what everyone does, can we Rob?”

“Na? I guess not, but anyway, I hear Ellesmere Youth Project, and others like Sheffield Futures and Connexion have some activities planned for you soon?”

“Yeah Rob, Paint balling, we’re all looking forward to that, and the car thing.” – Making reference to proposals to take the youth banger-racing.

I was prompted to ask how they’d feel as a crew if only a few of them were allowed to go or get involved in some of these planned summer events.

“Na man, we’re all going Rob, can’t pick an chose between us, how they gonna do that?”

Residents and youth workers have also expressed concerns that Summer Youth Provision will be targeted, meaning that well-behaved young people lose out. Leroy Wenham of Sheffield Futures said: “While the Positive Action for Young People initiative will target young people who have offended, left care or who aren’t going to school, this is only part of the funding. We will also be working with other young people this year.”