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VIDEO: Calls for meeting with Roma leaders over unrest in Hexthorpe

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Angry residents are calling for crisis talks with Roma community leaders over rising racial tensions in Hexthorpe.

A heated public meeting this afternoon saw residents urge members of the immigrant community to come forward in a bid to ease divisions within their neighbourhood.

More than 100 people crammed into St Jude Church to raise concerns over tensions between long-standing residents and new groups of Polish and Slovakian residents, which boiled over on Sunday night into a street fight in which two people were stabbed.

Father-of-two Stuart Boardman, 41, of Crawshaw Road, said: “We have tried and tried to get them to come to a meeting, but they just don’t want to.

“It is time they had a meeting with us so we can say ‘We think you are doing this and that wrong’. We need to raise it with them and then the situation might improve. But they need to meet with us first.”

Other residents at the Partners And Communities Together (PACT) meeting urged police to take more action amid fears it is only a matter of time before violence erupts again.

Elizabeth Boardman, 70, a grandmother-of-six, said: “There are people carrying knives. We don’t want another situation like Sunday night but I fear someone will be killed.”

Two men who were stabbed at the weekend were being treated in hospital earlier this week. Their injuries are not thought to be serious.

Sergeant Lynne Lancaster said five people have been arrested in connection to the incident. Only one of the suspects was from Hexthorpe.

She added: “Only one of them was from Hexthorpe, so it wasn’t a case of residents from here against other residents. It was other people coming in.”

Residents said they were scared to go out at night because of roaming gangs carrying knives.

Sgt Lancaster said: “We need to have reasonable grounds to search someone who may have a knife. We searched 51 people and none were found to be carrying a knife.

“In the last three months we have only had five knife related incidents reported to us. If you suspect a crime is being committed then please report it to 101.”

She added police patrols have been stepped up in recent weeks.

Pat Hagan, Doncaster Council’s head of service (Communities), told the meeting council and police teams are in contact with the Roma community and were working on setting up a meeting with them.

He said: “These things take time and we have to create the right forum for this. But we are working on this and it will happen sooner rather than later.”

 
 
 

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