Tackling anti-social behaviour in Barnsley remains a priority for me. The unpleasant and sometimes frightening experiences that local residents have shared with me, plus the scenes I have witnessed for myself, are simply unacceptable.
Recently, a significant number of constituents have been in touch and shared disturbing images of individuals in an unconscious or semi-conscious state in and around Peel Square in particular.
I have again raised my concerns with both South Yorkshire Police and Barnsley Council. Both have provided me with a comprehensive update on the work they are doing to target the influx of Spice onto our streets. They have advised that there is evidence of an organised crime group targeting vulnerable users with a particularly potent variety of Spice. A number of arrests have already been made and the police and the council will continue to work together to shut down the supply of 'Spice' into Barnsley as soon as possible.Read more
Modern slavery is a crime that is devastating to the lives of its victims, and usually affects the most vulnerable members of society.Read more
It’s just two weeks since Barnsley hosted the Tour de Yorkshire.
The town centre was buzzing on the day, with the bunting and street stalls creating a fantastic atmosphere. It was really exciting to watch world-class cyclists setting out on the Second Stage of this internationally acclaimed cycling event, and I am glad that so many lined the route to cheer them on.Read more
This week the town centre is buzzing as the final preparations for the Tour de Yorkshire are made. Friday promises to be a fantastic day and a very proud moment for Barnsley as we welcome one of the most prestigious international cycling events to our town.
However, I share the concerns expressed by many of my constituents regarding the recent increase in anti-social behaviour in the town centre. Many people have been in touch with me to share their experiences. It is deeply worrying that at a time when Barnsley should be celebrating, instead there are distressing images on social media of individuals collapsed in the streets due to drug and alcohol misuse.Read more
Over the coming hours, days and weeks much will be said about the attack that took place in Westminster yesterday. It will be analysed and explored from every angle, with every possible cause and effect considered.Read more
In 2014, the rapid increase of the sale of so-called ‘legal-highs’ in Barnsley caused a surge in anti-social behaviour across the Borough. Residents and shopkeepers contacted me with alarming reports of users collapsing, vomiting and urinating in the streets, gathering in groups and intimidating passers-by with inappropriate behaviour at all times of day and night. It quickly became clear that the devastating impact of ‘legal-highs’ was being felt throughout the UK. These potentially lethal substances were becoming readily available, with many users being unaware of the dangers of taking highs which mimic the effects of illegal drugs. The Government was slow to respond on this issue, so I began a national campaign to criminalise ‘legal highs’ and remove these dangerous substances from our streets. I also set up a meeting with Barnsley Council and local stakeholders to discuss how best to tackle the impact on our community.
March 2014: Deciding to tackle the issue head on, I met with the owners of the 'legal high' shop in Barnsley to ask them to consider the serious impact of their sale of ‘legal-highs’ on the community.
July 2014: Speaking at the Westminster Hall debate on the issue, I urged the Government to take action on legal highs. The 'legal high' shop in Barnsley is evicted from their town centre premises – a fantastic result but unfortunately the owner opens new premises on the Sheffield Road.
November 2014: I welcome the Government’s plan to legislate for a blanket ban on the sale of 'legal highs'. Listen to me discuss the key issues on Dearne FM
February 2015: I met with Home Office ministers to ask when a ban will be brought in.
April 2015: I urge Barnsley Council to liaise with other local authorities who have used Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) to curb anti-social behaviour arising from the use of ‘legal-highs’.
June 2015: I held a public meeting with residents to discuss the impact of legal highs on the community.
September 2015: after writing repeatedly to the proprietors of ‘Smokey Sam’s’ urging them to act responsibly, they finally agree to cease selling legal highs completely by the end of the year.
January 2016: the Home Office introduces the Psychoactive Substances Bill.
1 April 2016: Barnsley Council introduce a Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) giving enforcement officers enhanced powers to take action against those acting inappropriately under the influence of legal highs.
May 2016: the Psychoactive Substances Act becomes law. It is now a criminal offence to sell ‘legal highs’.
The introduction of the legislation outlawing 'legal highs' has had a significant impact on the supply of these dangerous psychoactive substances. On a local level, the police and enforcement officers have been able to make use of the enhanced powers given to them by the PSPO. Concerns remain regarding the online sale of these lethal highs and I will hold the Government to their promise to review the effectives of their legislation after 20 months.
I have written before about anti-social behaviour in our town centre and it’s something I’m again increasingly concerned about.
Let’s be clear: the intimidating behaviour we have seen recently are seeing is totally unacceptable.
The actions of this small minority are affecting everyone. Whilst many shoppers just choose to go and shop somewhere else, local business owners and workers don’t have that choice.Read more
Barnsley is a town built on coal and, because of that, trade unions have always had deep roots in our community.
Many of the people I know in Barnsley have vivid memories of the miners’ strike and still feel its impact today.Read more