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Gangs of Roma children whip Sheffield locals as residents tell of living in fear on tension-riven es

Alone in the afternoon gloom of a Sheffield street, householder Sharon Hall is surrounded by a group of Roma children brandishing home-made whips.

I hear one child scream at her to “f*** off”, then see another pelt her with discarded rubbish that is strewn around the rat-infested streets, here in the poverty-blighted suburb of Page Hall.

Local resident from Page Hall, Sharon is whipped by young Slovakian Roma boys on Sheffield street

As she hurries for the safety of a friend’s home, one youngster brings down the plaited whip thong as hard as he can on Sharon’s back.

Safely indoors moments later, un-hurt but clearly shaken, she tells me: “I was whipped twice. They threw cans and bits of wood at me. I was worried for my safety — I had a whole gang of them around me.”

After dialling 999, Sharon, 54, tells how she suffers daily abuse in the tension-riven estate after thousands of Slovakian Roma arrived in Sheffield.

I had come to notorious Page Hall amid concerns that community tensions were rocketing here once more.

Oliver Harvey was stunned to see young Roma children cracking home-made whips more than a metre long during his trip to Page Hall

In September a police helicopter, 15 police vehicles and dog handlers attended a disturbance in a school, apparently after a Roma girl ripped a headscarf from a Yemeni classmate.

Dozens of parents rushed to Fir Vale Academy’s gates after false rumours of a knife fight inside the school, with some even trying to scale the fence.

Since EU expansion in 2004, 6,000 Slovakian Roma have arrived in Sheffield. Many have settled in Page Hall, in a richly diverse neighbourhood that includes a large number of people of Pakistani origin.

Soon there was friction. Among complaints levelled at the Roma are claims of groups boozing in the street late at night, drugs, men urinating in public and littering.

A group of Roma children attacked Sharon after she had visited a corner shop to buy cigarettes

Many of the ramshackle, sub-standard homes that the Roma are crammed into are owned by Pakistani immigrants who have successfully assimilated into the community and are now climbing the property ladder or building small business empires.

Now they too are concerned at the drop in house prices brought about by the criminality, mess and tensions.

Six miles away in Eastwood, a suburb of Rotherham which has also seen an influx of Roma, local MP Sarah Champion said “disreputable” landlords renting to Roma were almost exclusively Pakistani.

She recently attended a meeting of about 40 Eastwood Roma residents who felt victimised in their homes.

John Simspson says you can't open our borders with no integration policy

She said: “They talked of bullying and degradation, and they were saying that it was the Pakistanis who were doing it.”

On my visit to Page Hall this week, I was stunned to see young Roma children cracking home-made whips more than a metre long.

Before our meeting, Sharon had visited a corner shop to buy cigarettes after arriving home from work.

A group of Roma children outside in the road — at least two carrying whips with wooden handles and woven string or rope thongs — began to trail behind.

Sharon says there's no parental control with Roma kids in Sheffield

After she was attacked, it was only when taxi driver Tanveer Jan stopped in the middle of the road to berate the children that Sharon was left alone.

The cabbie, whose father came from Pakistan to Sheffield to work in the steel mills, later told me: “I just asked them what they were doing and they ran off.

“Those whips are dangerous weapons. Lots of them make them at home. The police know about it.”

Sharon, manager of a nearby unit for adults with learning disabilities, told me afterwards: “There were around seven kids who looked as young as eight. They meant business.

Some of the Roma community litter and stay out on the streets all night

“There’s no parental control. They come back from school, feed them, then chuck them back on to the street and don’t bother watching them.”

Sharon, who said she would like to sell up and buy a retirement caravan on the Yorkshire coast, added:

“The kids have only got to throw something heavy at me that hits my head by mistake or whip me in the eye for me to be hurt.” She said the police failed to turn up to the incident on Wednesday, sending her an apologetic text to say they would be in touch.

Neighbour Kerryanne Wright, a single mum of five, says she has become a virtual prisoner in her home after being targeted by Roma families.

She gazes through her front window, smeared with an egg yolk she says was the result of her home being pelted by Slovakians.

Kerryanne, 38, says: “They chuck rubbish in my garden, they bang on my doors and windows constantly, there’s music on until 12.30am. There’s gangs of men in the street and it stinks of weed. I was punched when I asked for the music to be turned down.

“They put my front door window through. My kids were crying. I’ve got three little ones who are terrified.

“I’ve rung the police 15 or 20 times in the past few months.

Roma living conditions in Slovakia are poor and there aren't many opportunities for them

“They tell me to keep reporting what happens to them. People have had enough.”

Many of Page Hall’s Roma come from an impoverished area of Slovakia where they suffered horrendous discrimination.

On the eve of the EU’s eastwards expansion in 2004 I visited a Roma village near the Slovakian town of Kezmarok and was shocked at their living conditions, which wouldn’t have been out of place in a refugee camp.

Families lived in wooden shacks, got water from a communal standpipe and a few holes in the ground were used as toilets for 1,200 people.

Roma children live in wooden shacks in Slovakia

The Roma were excluded from jobs and education, leaving them with a mistrust of authorities.

Unemployment in the village was 98 per cent and men were scavenging in the forest for firewood. Many local Slovakians were openly hostile to them.

So it is little wonder that some of the 200,000-plus Roma who came to the UK have found integration in suburban Britain difficult.

In 2013 former Labour Home Secretary and Sheffield MP David Blunkett gave this controversially stark warning: “We’ve got to change the behaviour and culture of the incoming Roma community because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise

John Simspson says you can't open our borders with no integration policy

Former Labour MP David Blunkett said we have to change the behaviour of the incoming Roma community in 2013

Culled from The Sun

My view: You can't have open borders without, integration policy, it's not nice. It seems the out of control Romanian kids are taking out their frustration on local residents.

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