Inside ‘lawless’ estate named ‘The Zoo’ where chaos reigns and cops are attacked
Ugly scenes have this week flared again on the very same estate where a police van was torched last year.
Derelict houses boarded up with metal panels, graffiti sprayed on walls and the charred carcasses of fires left smouldering at the side of the road are all too common sights on "The Zoo" estate.
More commonly known as Halton Moor, the residential streets in Leeds are where hundreds of families live and have become the epicentre of violent clashes with police in the past 18 months, LeedsLive reports.
Over two consecutive nights, police officers were attacked with bricks and fireworks, cars were set ablaze and fireworks were even aimed through the letterbox of one house.
A police chief described the "lawless" behaviour on Kendall Drive, Rathmell Road and Ullswater Crescenet as "truly disgraceful" after officers were once again assaulted.
A police van was also torched by yobs in the middle of the street on the estate in September 2019.
A few hours after the shocking attack, vans full of riot police were forced to suddenly retreat from the estate after bricks and missiles started raining down on the vehicles and the hostilities continued long into the night.
Fourteen injunctions were dished out to youngsters involved in the chaotic scenes and there are ongoing investigations into both the 2019 and 2020 incidents.
Jan has lived in Halton for 13 years. She told LeedsLive: "Around Bonfire Night it sounds like World War Three.
"There are fireworks sounding like bombs going off for days.
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"I've seen police in riot shields and a police van burned out. There were fireworks put through someone's letterbox, setting their house alight."
Jan added that when her partner's car was stolen, it turned up in Halton Moor.
Steph Blueman, 30, lives on the other side of Leeds in Bramley, but she regularly visits friends in Halton Moor and admitted "I would never choose to live there".
"If I go down there, I don't feel safe," she said.
She says when she has been down there she has seen "fighting, fires being lit and gangs of disrespectful youths terrorising the estate" and claims someone once tried to fight her as she entered a building "for no reason".
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She said: "When I went to leave the building again, the youths were blocking me and refusing to let me out.
"It's very intimidating. The police can't even control them."
But Cllr Debra Coupar, the deputy leader of the council, who grew up on the estate, describes Halton Moor as "a really good community".
"There are so many good people and law-abiding citizens living on this estate," she said. "But people are extremely disappointed that the name of Halton Moor has been dragged through the mud because of the mindless acts of a few individuals.
"This ridiculous behaviour by a small number of individuals has brought the area's name into disrepute."
Inspector Jodie Scatchard heads the Leeds East Neighbourhood Policing Team, who engages with people in Halton Moor in a bid to understand their frustrations and concerns.
Speaking about the incidents seen either side of Bonfire Night in 2020, she said: "The incidents of disorder that we saw at the weekend, as well as other incidents of anti-social behaviour that impact on people’s lives, are completely unacceptable and we will continue to work in partnership to take appropriate action against those who involve themselves in any such behaviour.”
She added: "Officers have been maintaining an increased presence in Halton Moor this week, and reassuringly there have been no further similar incidents since the weekend."
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