Residents describe fearing for their lives on one of Britain’s roughest estates where crime has become commonplace and yobs as young as 10 are terrorising the streets. Blakenall, in Walsall, West Midlands, has been compared to war-torn Ukraine after the area saw increasing crime in the past two years. Locals say the violence and anti-social behaviour is so bad they are often too scared to leave their homes.
People as young as 10 years old have been subjecting residents to anti-social incidents with shopkeepers reporting racial and physical attacks daily.
The area has fallen into a state of disrepair, with a sign welcoming people to the area missing several letters, a clear red flag for passers-by.
Residents and business owners are now seeking urgent action following a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults and vandalism.
The area is said to be one of the most socially deprived areas in the West Midlands with a higher population density than the rest of Walsall. But less than 19 per cent of locals own their own homes compared with the regional average of almost 31 per cent across the West Midlands.
A mother-of-seven, who didn’t want to be named, said: “It’s the younger kids causing the most problems. They get a buzz from it when the police arrive – but the police end up running away because they get pelted with bricks.
“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 Blakenall 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.”
A local councillor was told of an incident where a live pigeon was torn to pieces in front of horrified staff and customers outside a shop in the area, which also witnesses large amounts of fly tipping.
Businesses are plagued with anti-social behaviour, with shops being pelted with eggs, flour and bircks, while buses, taxis and cars also suffer regular attacks.
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One resident, who did not want to be identified, said: “It had got to the point where 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. It’s like a war-zone out there at times. 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. There are fights on a daily basis. Shopkeepers are being racially abused and attacked. Rubbish gets dumped in the street, fires are started, bus shelters are smashed. 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.”
Other incidents include arson which saw a mother and her children too scared to return and a delivery driver hospitalised after a bottle was thrown at them.
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Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith said: “I’ve seen first-hand how these problems have escalate and people are saying enough is enough. The residents, shoppers and shop staff cannot tolerate this situation any longer.
“These kids have simply been running riot. Empty houses are being trashed and set on fire, rubbish is being dumped and its 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. 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.
“On top of that, there’s shopkeepers being attacked and racially abused, houses being smashed up, schools being pelted with bottes. 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.
“We need a determined, collaborative and joined up approach with the police, council and housing associations. It seems there is now a plan of action which hopefully will address the problems we have in parts of Blakenall.”
West Midlands Police said it is stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues. A Walsall Council spokesperson said: “The council is actively working in partnership with West Midlands Police colleagues, partners and the local community to tackle these issues.”