A 25-man brawl erupted after rival youths clashed in an area of Sheffield that a former Home Secretary warned could be the scene of race riots. Last November David Blunkett warned that the influx of Slovakian Roma immigrants to the Page Hall district of Sheffield could end in violence unless urgent action was taken.
The Daily Mail reports rising tensions came to a head when groups of young men faced each other down, and fights broke out in the residential area. The disturbance was watched by large numbers of frightened locals, and a 17-year-old was hospitalised, suspected to have a broken arm.
The Roma population in Sheffield is currently between 2,000 and 4,000 and growing fast. They are also in a concentrated area with 1,000 being registered at just two local doctor’s surgeries.
One local said: “Members of the existing community are tired and quite frankly frightened at the swiftness of how the situation became enflamed. Council and Government agencies need to be aware of the truth and how the decent residents of this troubled district need support and assurance that they are safe to walk the streets.”
Local police have issued a Section 60 Order which allows them to stop and search anyone in the area. It also given them the power to disperse groups of people. They have not yet made any arrests, Inspector Richard Burgess said: “There was a police presence in the area throughout the evening to ensure no further issues developed and we will continue to provide a high visibility policing presence in the following days.
“Officers are thoroughly investigating and are continuing with enquires. We are determined that those responsible for this outbreak of disorder will be held to account for their actions.”
In November last year Blunkett warned that the area could explode due to ethnic tensions. At the time he said: “We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise.”
At the last census one in 50 Slovaks were Roma, but the minority is badly discriminated against in the country and have little access to education or legitimate work. Since 2004 any Slovak has been entitled to move to the United Kingdom and claim benefits. Understandably many Roma have taken up this offer and the UK population is growing.
They form part of the Eastern European immigration problem that politicians are now trying to grapple with. Many of them have left Medieval style poverty in continental Europe (pictured).
Huge numbers of unskilled people came to Britain with little prospect of work or high quality housing. Many have now been left in poor communities like Page Hall with little or no opportunities other than benefit claiming.