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October 2003
The Dark Side Of Nottingham
The Dark Side Of Nottingham
The Dark Side Of Nottingham
A look at some of the less talked of facets of life in Nottingham, why they are becoming such a huge problem, and what the authorities are doing to remedy the situation.

University of Nottingham,
Impact Magazine article
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Nottinghamshire Police

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Welcome to the neighbourhood. At some stage of life in Nottingham, most of us will call that boulevard stretch of Radford, Lenton and its environs home.

However, it is quite unsettling to think that hand in hand surrounding the cosy trinity of kebab shops, pubs and Jackson's is an area riddled with crime. So much so that rumour has it Lenton boasts a cash point with the most muggings in the country. Surely this should cause some concern?

When we spoke to a member of the Nottingham constabulary and ventured that urban myth might exaggerate the level of crime in Lenton and Radford, she replied, "It isn't exaggerated. We have big problems. When 20,000 youngsters move from nice areas to a big city for the first time, there is naivety - not locking all doors and windows, for example - and unfortunately a minority of our residents exploit that. We're doing what we can, but students must play their part as well."

No doubt recent arrivals will have had Nottingham plugged as a centre of nightlife and all round entertainment until their ears are red raw and can take it no longer.

However, Nottingham also plays host to another, darker side. Since the late 90s it has been one of only three areas where armed police stroll the beat. Class A drug prices are said to be the cheapest in the country on the streets of Nottingham, and gun crime has spiralled out of control.

Impact has taken a look at some of the less talked of facets of life in Nottingham, why they are becoming such a huge problem, and what the authorities are doing to remedy the situation.

Here we look at teenage pregnancy, drug related crime, date rape and some possible remedies to the problems facing Nottingham.

Teenage Pregnancy in Nottingham

Britain has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe; tell me something I don't know we hear you say; well did you know that Nottingham has the 14th highest rate of teenage conceptions in the UK? Surprising isn't it? According to Nottinghamshire's Health Improvement Plan conducted in 2002, the number of pregnant teens in the city was twice the national average, between 1997 and 1999.

Nottingham has further hit the headlines with a 13-year-old mother calling for sex education to be given younger. It clearly came to late for her, as she was impregnated whilst receiving a course in sex education. She gave birth to an eight-pound baby at the QMC in September. The mother-daughter age difference is similar to that of sisters.

But why should you and I care? Apart from the risks to the mother and baby, such as higher infant mortality and poor antenatal health there are usually consequences for the community as a whole. Teenage parents often lack the time or money to complete their education and find adequate employment. This subsequently creates social exclusion where more and more children are being brought up in poverty, a regular factor in cases of teenage pregnancy. A vicious cycle develops thus perpetuating the problem further.

In true Labour style, the government has targeted Nottingham as an area in desperate need of education, education, education - sex education that is! Local schemes such as KISS (Knowledge and Information on Sexual Health and Sexuality) and Club One aim to reduce the worryingly high rate of teenage pregnancy by offering an accessible and less intimidating service for young people. As a result Nottingham authorities have outlined a plan of action for the next seven years; with the intention of a 15% reduction in unwanted conceptions in under 16 year olds by 2004, and a further 50% reduction in 2010.

Encouragingly, although teenage pregnancy remains a problem for the city, recent findings show that the number of conceptions is actually falling. The focus now should be the continuation of this trend, as well as the further development of places such as Beckhampton Centre, a special unit designed to educate young mums to be and those who already have children.

Drug related crime in Nottingham
All dealings with cannabis aside, Nottingham is experimenting with drugs on a level that would shock even your most ardent Trainspotting fan.

Despite optimistic claims by the city council that the drugs problem is becoming more managed, most Drugs Centres are now admitting to a definite rise in recreational and experimental drugs use across the county. This is all the more alarming, when you consider that one baby per month in the city of Nottingham is born already addicted to heroin.

In a county with an estimated population of one million, Nottinghamshire police estimate that there are 6,000 crack cocaine and heroin addicts: that is the equivalent to 150 heroin and crack addicts within the university population.

Further, it is no secret that drug problems lead to a whole host of further criminal activity. It has been suggested, again by the police force, that heroin users will commit crimes valued at roughly £45,000 per year, which, with a little elementary maths, equates to £6 million worth in Nottingham alone.

Maybe its no wonder then, that rumours are flying amongst Nottingham's drug help-centres of a crack explosion: a fact that the government has reluctantly admitted, by identifying Nottingham as one of the crack hotspots in the UK.

So what's going to happen to Nottingham's 6,000 addicts? Will they take Renton's advice? Choose a future. Choose life... but as he said why would I want to do a thing like that?

Case Study - The Meadows
The Meadows is synonymous with the darker side of Nottingham. One of only three places where there are routine armed police patrols, the area has a reputation for guns, violent crime and drugs. Most students only venture left of the station for one of the infamous Karni booze cruises, but Impact braved the divide.

In theory, an area close to the city centre, the train station, and convenient for top class cricket and football should be an asset to the city. Instead the bleak and dated housing-estate with its many alleyways and secluded spots creates a haven for criminals.

Earlier this year the local Dyer family and their neighbours were arrested in possession of £250,000 worth of drugs, and the guns to match. The judge berated the group for causing misery in the Meadows and sentenced them to a total of more than 75 years. Although Impact does not want to imply that the area is entirely populated by drugs and gun barons, the simple fact is that even the local police are unwilling to refute the area's reputation. One local police officer admitted that an awful lot of shootings do occur in the area, and that the figures are currently increasing.

But the shootings themselves do not tell the whole story. Nottingham's location on the drug route between London and Manchester has led to a significant number of drug-related gang shootings in the Meadows area. In a court case this time last year a judge warned that gangs were taking over the Nottingham streets. Official sources are usually keen to deny that Nottingham is part of a wider national trafficking problem. According to our police source, however, it is not unreasonable to see a link between the problems in Nottingham and those that plague North-west London and south Manchester.

With such nation-wide links, it seems that drug and gun crime is here to stay in the Meadows.

ate rape
Last year, Nottingham provided 450 of the 1300* (a figure which has increased dramatically each year) cases of date rape committed across the country. *Statistics supplied by the Roofie Foundation.

Please note - since this article was originally published these figures have changed. For up to date statistics check out the Roofie Foundation website. (April 2005)

That Nottingham is a centre for many of the country's most desperate problems is no longer in any doubt. But, as anyone who took a jaunty trip down to the Goose Fair on the weekend will testify, the Nottinghamshire police and County Council are working hard to reverse the downward trend that at present seems so unstoppable.

Once hailed as a Mecca for thugs, gangs and pickpockets, the sheer volume of officials policing the fair would have been enough to chill Fagin's boots and make even the most hardened knife wielder think twice.

The Nottinghamshire Police Force certainly do seem to have their priorities right, having introduced a visibility scheme to ensure a greater police presence around the trouble spots of Nottingham (Lenton being one of them). Indeed, a friend recounted that the other day that on going into her hall, she was confronted by a rather imposing 6-foot policeman claiming the front door was wide open. He then proceeded to invite himself for a cup of tea. A detailed description of the visibility scheme later, she was content in the knowledge that someone is working on the side of law and order.
Yet still all is not well, as there have been renewed calls for a greater police presence in the wake of the murder of Marion Bates in Arnold on 30th September.

Those of you with your eyes open around the centre of town may also have noticed the Rat on a Rat posters gracing buses, billboards and poster spaces alike. These mark the single biggest Crimestoppers campaign Nottinghamshire has ever seen in an attempt to curb the skyrocketing drugs problem currently facing the city. Children, parents and former addicts are all being encouraged to rat out any dealer that might be causing trouble to them or their friends. Given that county-wide the cost of drugs-related problems totals upward of £100 million, authorities are crying out for any help they can get.

Overall, the Constabulary is positive that crime in Nottingham can be overcome but no one is denying that a long and testing road lies ahead.

Statistics taken from: BBC Nottingham, Crimestoppers, The Roofie Foundation, Nottingham Constabulary.

Radhika Dandeniya - Katie Skinner - Abbi Buxon
- Robert Norgrove - Rowena Ronni Lodge - Owen Amos - Sally Hartfield - Sarah Knock

What do you think about "the dary side of Nottingham?" Does this student view reflect what's really going on in the city. Let us know.
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