Lone women 'not being protected' from harassment in Rother Valley village

Women living alone in an area of Aughton say the council and police are not doing enough to protect them from harassment from neighbours.

By Danielle Andrews, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 10:10 am

Karen Smith was off sick from work for ten months after a campaign of abuse left her too stressed to focus on work.

She said that despite reporting excrement posted through her letterbox, her windows being smashed with a hammer and even being followed, no action has been taken to move the culprits.

“I felt I was going to have a mental breakdown,” said Karen, who has lived at her council property for four years, and said the harassment just six months after moving in.

Residents in an area of Aughton say the council and police are not doing enough to protect them from harassment from neighbours.

“I was told that the council can’t just evict them. All I wanted was help,” she said.

One one occasion, Karen reported being attacked by a neighbour – but claims no action was taken.

She added: “It is terrifying to have to live in these conditions. We’re all women on our own, we’re not looking for sympathy, we just want something to be done.”

Paula Hodson, a neighbour of Karen, said her nightmare started when new neighbour moved in next door, and started to have loud parties late into the night.

“I kept a log from December, I’ve had violent threats and my windows put through,” he said.

“The council said they’d see to it, but how many recordings do we have to send until something is done?

“I feel fobbed off. I get no sleep at all – it’s just screaming, shouting, slamming doors but I’m told nothing can be done.”

Kathleen McClean, who lives on Heighton View, says the problem has been going on in the area for 13 years.

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She has had her car windows smashed, and her garden bombarded with fish and rotten eggs.

She said she “can’t count” how many times she has caled the police – but now feels that there is “no point”.

“I think it’s women on their own that are being targeted. Do they feel brave about what they’re doing?” she added.

However, Rotherham Council’s acting assistant director for housing, Paul Walsh, said that the authority is aware of the problems, and “appropriate action can be taken.”

Mr Walsh said: “We take all reports of criminality and anti-social behaviour very seriously. Where crimes take place, we will support police investigations, and tenants can – and do – lose their council properties for criminal behaviour that affects others nearby.

“We are aware of the problems that have been raised by several residents in this area, and we’ll continue to work with them to gather evidence so that appropriate action can be taken.

“Whilst we cannot comment on the individual circumstances of the residents in this case, we can confirm that extra lighting and CCTV have already been put in place to help people in the local area to feel safer.

“We also are working with South Yorkshire Police and other agencies including the Community Protection Unit to obtain evidence to enable further action to be pursued where necessary.

“We would encourage any tenant affected by criminality or anti-social behaviour to continue to report this and to support our staff to ensure that the necessary steps can be taken.”

Inspector Chris Blake for the Rotherham South Neighbourhood team said: “It is a priority for us to ensure people feel safe in their community and homes.

"We regularly carry out patrols in this area along with members from Rotherham Council, and speak to residents about any issues they have.

“I would encourage people to report any incidents to us so we can thoroughly investigate and where there is a need for police involvement we can work together with the local council to tackle any issues raised and offer support to the residents.