FEATURE: 'Drug addict spotted injecting near boat lake' claim in Doncaster town hit with crime problems
Addicts injecting heroin near a picturesque lake, thieves punching shop assistants in the face and unruly gangs intimidating people in the street.
These are just some examples of how a druggie gang are allegedly making resident's lives a misery in a Doncaster suburb.
People living in Askern claim their hometown has been overrun by a group of five or six individuals who they blame for a spate of criminal incidents that have rocked the former pit town.
A mum-of-one, who has lived in the town all of her life, lifted the lid on the issues facing residents.
The 29-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: “It is a nice, close-nit community and everyone knows everyone.
“But recently this group has turned up and nobody knows who they are. You can tell they are drug users by the look of them.
“It is no coincidence that there has been a rise in crime in the town recently. Everyone is talking about it.”
She added that the group of about five or six men generally congregate near a row of shops in the town centre. There is also speculation that they are ex-prisoners who are squatting in a vacant building.
“People feel intimidated when they walk past them. It will get to a point where the place will be deserted if something doesn't change.”
She added that a number of residents have highlighted specific incidents believed to be linked to the group.
Details of the rising tide of crime emerged on the Askern Photo Page Facebook Group, which is usually reserved for sharing old photographs of the town but some of the 6000 members now use it as a forum to highlight issues blighting the area.
The resident added: “A father posted that he was taking his son to the toilet at Askern Lake when he saw a man in there injecting heroin into his leg.
“This is a nice area enjoyed by families. When you hear about things like this it makes you fear what the future will be.”
She added on another occasion within the last fortnight a home was raided on Lignum Terrace in which thousands of pounds of electrical items were stolen.
In addition a female member of staff at the Co-op was allegedly punched in the face when she tried to stop a man from stealing.
Residents also bemoaned the loss of Askern Police Station, which closed more than a decade ago and was recently in the process of being demolished.
The woman said: “We used to have more bobbies on the beat definitely. We really think there is an issue with this particular group.
“We want to see more officers on the street and we demand a public meeting with police to discuss the issues.”
The most recent statistics from the Crime Maps website shows there were more than 80 offences reported in April, including thefts, anti-social behaviour and violent crimes.
Councillor Iris Beech said all three ward members for Askern attended a recent partners and communities together meeting in nearby Adwick to raise the issues with police officers.
She said: "We are aware of people's concerns but there is some speculation on social media that is untrue. We have had reassurances from the owner of the vacant building that nobody is living in there illegally.
"However, we will continue to raise residents' concerns with police so that action is taken."
Inspector Dave Jones, of the Doncaster West Local Policing Team, said “robust action” has been taken to tackle the known issues.
This has including imposing an court order to close a troublesome property and extra patrols during Operation Duxford.
He added: “During the most recent operation run in Doncaster, officers alongside partners from Doncaster Council worked to offer advice, provide reassurance and increase community safety.
“From the work carried out, 17 people were arrested for a number of different offences including the supply of drugs and failing to appear at court.
“Although this action has addressed the concerns raised, we are aware work still needs to be done to prevent further issues from reoccurring. We will now continue to work with our local authority partners to achieve this.”
He added: “Chief constable Stephen Watson has also been holding policing roadshows across South Yorkshire, to discuss local issues, gather feedback and provide members of the public with an opportunity to meet with their local policing team. The feedback gathered will now be used to influence the new neighbourhood policing model, which is going to be introduced in September.”
Doncaster Council declined the opportunity to comment.