"It does not reflect the community spirit in Halton Moor" - community speaks out after weekend of violent disorder

The community of Halton Moor has been left "extremely disappointed" at having its name dragged through the mud as police braced themselves for another night of unrest.

By Emma Ryan
Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 6:00 am

Community leaders have moved to reassure the public that robust action is being taken to tackle the aftermath of two nights of unrest which included violent disorder and attacks on police vehicles with bricks and fireworks over Saturday and Sunday evening.

In a press conference called rapidly last night by the deputy leader of Leeds City Council and the ward member representing Halton Moor, Coun Debra Coupar said she wanted to reassure the public that "the most robust response is taking place behind the scenes".

She said: "I want to reassure the people of Halton Moor that we are working in partnership across the police and fire service to ensure community safety across Halton Moor. Halton Moor is a really good community area and there are so many good law abiding citizens on that estate who have had to suffer from ridiculous behaviour by a small minority of individuals who have brought the area's name into disrepute."

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A cul-de-sac just off Kendal Drive, Halton Leeds, where police where forced to attend due to disturbances.

The latest incidents are just a year after a police van was set on fire in the same location.Coun Coupar said the September 2019 incident was in connection with a number of injunctions being taken out against young people. They have since expired but the focus is now on a strategic approach going forward.

She added: "We are looking to bring about a partnership approach with various agencies to look at how we can address this going forward, making sure that these incidents do not happen again. There are some actions taking place and some that I can't tell you about but I want to reassure people that the most robust action is taking place behind the scenes."

Police patrols and presence were stepped up again last night after the incidents over the weekend, which were branded "appalling" by Coun Coupar especially as they took place over Remembrance weekend.

West Yorkshire Police said that two men, aged 18 and 48, and a 14-year-old male remain in custody after being arrested on suspicion of violent disorder in connection with the incidents, and enquiries are ongoing to identify further suspects.

Police patrols are being maintained in Halton Moor over the next few days.

At about 7.30pm on Sunday night police vans were targeted with bricks and fireworks when a large crowd gathered around the junction of Rathmell Road and Ullswater Crescent and public order units were scrambled to disperse the group, resulting in the 48-year-old man being detained.

Around two hours later a member of the public’s car was set on fire in Kendal Drive and police units were sent again to the area to deal with a crowd that had gathered and to back up the fire service putting out the car fire.

Shortly before 11pm a garden fence at a house in Rathmell Road was set on fire and officers were again sent to support the fire service.

It followed incidents on Saturday evening where a large group of youths caused damage to a car and a house in Kendal Drive and objects were thrown at police officers and vehicles resulting in two officers being hit and three vehicles damaged.

Detectives from Leeds District CID are carrying out a full investigation of the weekend, including a full analysis of available CCTV and footage from officers’ body-worn cameras. Police officers will be in the area over the next few days to reassure the community.

Chief Supt Damien Miller, Leeds District Commander, said: “The behaviour witnessed in this part of Halton Moor over the weekend was truly disgraceful, and I know the majority of the community will be as appalled as we are about what occurred.

“At the same time, detectives are carrying out detailed and comprehensive enquiries to identify those involved in these incidents so they can be subject to robust action that sends a very clear message about how unacceptable behaviour such as this is.

“We know that Halton Moor is somewhere with a strong identity and strong sense of community spirit and we will be continuing to work alongside community representatives and our partner agencies, particularly the local authority and local elected members, to see that is remains a safe place."

One of the reasons being looked at as a trigger is the moving into a second lockdown and diversionary activities, usually arranged for young people around Halloween and Bonfire Night, being cancelled because of coronavirus and people holding their own Bonfire events as organised displays were also cancelled.

Coun Coupar added: "Because of the recent coronavirus restrictions, organised displays and events were not being conducted across the city. That meant people were having their own displays in gardens and their communities and we know that calls for assistance were huge across the city for fire and police.

"Young people in particular are now in a second lockdown of restrictions. Usually we have diversionary activities taking place over Halloween and Bonfire night but we have been unable to do that and get them positively engaged doing other things. That is not to condone any action that they took that was illegal and the most robust action will be taken against these individuals that took part."

She added that the events of the weekend did not reflect the community spirit in Halton Moor.

"It does not reflect the community spirit in Halton Moor at all. Most people in that area are law abiding citizens going to work, going to do voluntary work, there are a lot of young people and a lot of older people who have lived in that area their whole lives. It is a wonderful community spirit. I know it well, I was brought up on that estate myself and can completely understand people feel aggrieved.

"Residents are extremely disappointed we are having the name of the community dragged through the mud because of mindless acts of individuals"