Britain’s ‘ROUGHEST’ estate is likened to ‘war-torn Ukraine’

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Residents are living in fear on one of ‘Britain’s roughest estates’ where yobs as young as 10 have been running riot and even ripping live pigeons apart.

Blakenall, in Walsall, West Midlands, has been compared to ‘war-torn Ukraine‘ after the area began falling into a state of disrepair during the past two years.

Locals are constantly being plagued by violence and anti-social behaviour and say they are too scared to leave their homes – even in the daytime.

Feral youths as young as 10 have been subjecting terrified residents and shopkeepers to racial and physical attacks on a daily basis.

Only 19 per cent of houses in Blakenall are owner-occupied and the population density is is higher than surrounding areas

Gary Brookes, Walsall Housing Group's director of housing said: 'We are really concerned about ongoing issues in this area regarding criminal activity and antisocial behaviour'

Gary Brookes, Walsall Housing Group’s director of housing said: ‘We are really concerned about ongoing issues in this area regarding criminal activity and antisocial behaviour’

A sign welcoming people to the area has lost several of its letters - an omen of what visitors should expect crossing the boundary into Blakenhall

A sign welcoming people to the area has lost several of its letters – an omen of what visitors should expect crossing the boundary into Blakenhall

Anti-social behaviour and criminal damage are rife in the area with reports of businesses, buses and taxis being attacked

Anti-social behaviour and criminal damage are rife in the area with reports of businesses, buses and taxis being attacked

Tormented residents and business owners are now demanding action following a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults and vandalism

Tormented residents and business owners are now demanding action following a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults and vandalism

Tormented residents and business owners are now demanding action following a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults and vandalism.

The area is one of the most socially deprived areas in the West Midlands with a higher population density than the rest of Walsall, with 39 people per hectare compared to 27.3 across the wider region. 

Less than 19 per cent of locals own their own their own homes compared with almost 31 per cent across the West Midlands. 

According to statistics released by Walsall Council: 

  • 8.5 per cent of households are ‘overcrowded’ compared with Walsall average of 6.5 per cent
  • 3.1 per cent of households do not have central heating
  • Higher proportion of socially and privately rented properties
  • Below average of owner occupation 
  • The majority of people in the ward are among the top 10 per cent most deprived n Walsall
This image shows children from Blakenall Church of England School dancing the maypole in he 1940s

This image shows children from Blakenall Church of England School dancing the maypole in he 1940s

This image of the King's Head in Blakenall is from the 1920s, before parts of the area were cleared for new housing

This image of the King’s Head in Blakenall is from the 1920s, before parts of the area were cleared for new housing

Residents in Blakenall held a Coronation party or King George VI in 1937 at a time when the area was expanding with a mass house building programme to accommodate the families of service men from World War One and those cleared from slums

Residents in Blakenall held a Coronation party or King George VI in 1937 at a time when the area was expanding with a mass house building programme to accommodate the families of service men from World War One and those cleared from slums

The area was first mentioned in the 1300s but the first community started assembling in 1763, with continued growth for the next 80 years as a metal industry developed. This saw the development of houses, schools and a church. 

More houses were built to accommodate those working in local industry through the 19th century – which eventually led to severe overcrowding and slum conditions. 

The oldest pub in the area is believed to be the King’s Head, which was opened in 1851. 

In the interwar period, the slums were cleared and new houses were built for ex-servicemen and their families. The council houses first appeared in 1920, two years after the end of the war, and by 1927, almost 500 homes had been completed. 

However, in recent years, the area has declined significantly with increasing criminality and anti-social behaviour. 

Litter is strewn over the green area in front of a parade of shops which include a Coral bookmakers

Litter is strewn over the green area in front of a parade of shops which include a Coral bookmakers

A local councillor also told how a live pigeon was even torn to pieces in front of horrified staff and customers outside a shop in the area

A local councillor also told how a live pigeon was even torn to pieces in front of horrified staff and customers outside a shop in the area

Businesses have also been pelted with eggs, flour and bricks causing damage to property while buses, taxis and cars also routinely get attacked

Businesses have also been pelted with eggs, flour and bricks causing damage to property while buses, taxis and cars also routinely get attacked

Other incidents include a fire started at a house which left a mother and her children too scared to return and a delivery driver who was hospitalised by a thrown bottle

Other incidents include a fire started at a house which left a mother and her children too scared to return and a delivery driver who was hospitalised by a thrown bottle

A local councillor also told how a live pigeon was even torn to pieces in front of horrified staff and customers outside a shop in the area.

Businesses have also been pelted with eggs, flour and bricks causing damage to property while buses, taxis and cars also routinely get attacked.

Other incidents include a fire started at a house which left a mother and her children too scared to return and a delivery driver who was hospitalised by a thrown bottle.

Several streets around the area are also being used as a dumping ground for fly-tipped waste while balaclava-clad youths have been seen wielding knives.

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area.

One local resident, who did not wish to be named, 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.

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area

Several streets around the area are also being used as a dumping ground for fly-tipped waste while balaclava-clad youths have been seen wielding knives

Several streets around the area are also being used as a dumping ground for fly-tipped waste while balaclava-clad youths have been seen wielding knives

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area

Residents now fear it is only a matter of time before somebody is killed while other homeowners are being driven out of the area

One local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: 'It had got to the point where we are scared to leave our homes even in the daytime'

One local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘It had got to the point where we are scared to leave our homes even in the daytime’

A mother-of-seven, who did not want to be named, added: 'It's the younger kids causing the most problems'

A mother-of-seven, who did not want to be named, added: ‘It’s the younger kids causing the most problems’

‘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.’

A mother-of-seven, who did not want to be named, added: ‘It’s the younger kids causing the most problems.

West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues

West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues

One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: 'We've had our van window smashed just a couple of days ago'

One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: ‘We’ve had our van window smashed just a couple of days ago’

The shopkeeper said: 'I have lost staff members who just can't face being abused on a daily basis and now people are staying away so my trade has suffered too'

The shopkeeper said: ‘I have lost staff members who just can’t face being abused on a daily basis and now people are staying away so my trade has suffered too’

Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith said: 'I've seen first hand how these problems have escalate and people are saying enough is enough'

Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith said: ‘I’ve seen first hand how these problems have escalate and people are saying enough is enough’

‘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 Blakenhall 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.’

One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: ‘We’ve had our van window smashed just a couple of days ago.

‘I have lost staff members who just can’t face being abused on a daily basis and now people are staying away so my trade has suffered too.

‘They come in and steal eggs and then use those eggs to pelt the shop. We get racially abused too, we’ve just had enough.’

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.

West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues

West Midlands Police say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues

The look of squalor in the area has been made look worse by piles of rubbish indiscriminately dumped on the side of the street

The look of squalor in the area has been made look worse by piles of rubbish indiscriminately dumped on the side of the street

Local politicians say they have been made aware that children as young as eight or nine have been spotted hanging around with older gangs

Local politicians say they have been made aware that children as young as eight or nine have been spotted hanging around with older gangs

‘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 say they are stepping up patrols and using dispersal orders to try and control the issues.

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: ‘We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area.

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: 'We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area'

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: ‘We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area’

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: 'We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area.

Inspector Phil Upton, from the Walsall Neighbourhood Team, said: ‘We are aware of growing concern around instances of appalling behaviour by a small minority of young people in the Blakenall area.

Police said they are carrying out extra patrols in the area to crack down on crime and antisocial behaviour in he area

Police said they are carrying out extra patrols in the area to crack down on crime and antisocial behaviour in he area

He said: 'Our empty properties on Dawson Street have been targeted by criminals which has prevented us from accessing them and led to them needing substantial repair work. We will be securing the site in the next few weeks and are looking at what additional steps we can take to prevent any further damage while we work on these properties'

He said: ‘Our empty properties on Dawson Street have been targeted by criminals which has prevented us from accessing them and led to them needing substantial repair work. We will be securing the site in the next few weeks and are looking at what additional steps we can take to prevent any further damage while we work on these properties’

‘We understand how upsetting and worrying this can be and we have been carrying out extra patrols in the area to discourage further incidents and help with our on-going enquiries.

‘Officers have also been liaising closely with our partners in the area, including Walsall Council, local housing providers and youth services as we work to confirm the identity of those involved.

‘We have also been using dispersal orders in the area to remove and deter those identified as responsible.

‘Our work to tackle this issue is continuing and evolving, with further increased patrols planned along with targeted action to curb this totally unacceptable behaviour.’

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.’

Gary Brookes, Walsall Housing Group’s director of housing said: ‘We are really concerned about ongoing issues in this area regarding criminal activity and antisocial behaviour.

‘Our empty properties on Dawson Street have been targeted by criminals which has prevented us from accessing them and led to them needing substantial repair work.

‘We will be securing the site in the next few weeks and are looking at what additional steps we can take to prevent any further damage while we work on these properties.

‘The situation in Dawson Street is one we are taking very seriously. We are working with a number of partners including the police, council and the residents themselves to resolve these issues.’

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