Traders along Chesterfield’s up-and-coming Chatsworth Road say the popular shopping spot is fast becoming a no-go area.
According to business-owners, barely a day goes by that they or their customers don’t witness drunken fights, shouting and swearing and even people consuming illegal drugs in broad daylight - sometimes as early as 7am.
Worse still, they say the days where just one incident occurs are ‘good days’.
The Derbyshire Times has been reporting on the problems - with many blaming the apparent increase in anti-social behaviour on probation’s Community Rehabilitation Company moving onto Barker Lane.
But matters appeared to come to a head last week when three incidents of violence and criminal damage happened at a small cluster of shops almost instantaneously.
Last Tuesday at about 3.30pm, a worker at Giraffe Nursery Store was horrified when a fight between two women outside the shop spilled through the door.
She said: “I was sitting behind the counter and heard a massive bang against the front window - it was that loud I thought a car had crashed into it.
“Next thing, these two women flew through the door and then went back out, so I quickly went and locked it shut while two female police officers tried to separate these two women outside.”
At some point during the altercation an officer managed to radio for help and a number of police cars arrived at the scene.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “This has been an ongoing thing since probation moved to Brampton. It is just not fair on independent businesses having to put up with this.
“It’s pretty scary - something has to be done when you have women on their own in shops and the nights are getting darker.
“This area has really been up-and-coming lately but now we are having to lock our doors.”
It was just an hour later on the same evening when Harriet’s - a sandwich shop just two doors along the road - had its front window smashed by three men fighting in the street.
The owner told the Derbyshire Times: “I was upstairs baking when I heard a loud bang and at first thought it must be the girls returning from the cash and carry.
“But then I saw three blokes fighting outside so I phoned 999 straight away and hid in the kitchen.
“It was so scary because I could hear them shouting and swearing and I didn’t dare have a proper look because I thought they were going to come through the window.
“Luckily the police were not long arriving.”
And it was while a police officer was taking a statement from the shaken businesswoman that he had to run and help a colleague who was trying to stop a man from smashing in a door at electrical wholesalers Eyre and Elliston just down the road.
She said: “It has got worse lately but I am getting worried because it’s taken me a long time to build my customer base - I don’t want to lose those little old ladies because they are too scared to come into the shop.”
And this is a sentiment which is echoed by Richard Clarke, owner of Elysium Hair, who was shocked to find two young men ‘cooking’ what appeared to be heroin in order to inject themselves in a phonebox directly outside his shop in broad daylight.
“This is right outside the front of my place of work - it’s so blatant. And these things kinds of incidents just seem to be getting worse.
“Brampton was starting to go places but this is really bringing it down.”
PC David Randell, of Grangewood Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “We have received reports from local shop owners on Chatsworth Road around antisocial behaviour in the area.
“We are working with shop owners and local residents and acting upon intelligence received to tackle the issue.”
Toby Perkins, Chesterfield MP, said: “I met with local and Regional Managers of the CRC, along with the landlord of the building and local councillors. The landlord said that she didn’t believe that the arrival of the CRC had led to any increase in local drug usage or ASB, nor has their been drug related paraphernalia left around the outskirts of the building. She is arranging for me to hear from others tenants to hear their perspective.
“The CRC deal with low and medium risk ex offenders from their Barker Lane office, and the consequences for service users who attend their session drunk are severe, so they tell me that it is a rare occurrence.
“I will be meeting businesses affected by an increase in ASB this week and will also be speaking to local police.
“It is impossible for me to say whether the CRC premises are contributing to increased problems or not, but we will all be working to ensure that local workers and residents can go about their business peacefully.”
A spokesman for Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) said that antisocial behaviour could be caused by a wide range of factors, which were targeted by the local Community Safety Partnership, which included the police, local authority and other statutory partners, including CRC and the National Probation Service.
He added: “CRC works closely with this partnership to ensure that antisocial behaviour is dealt with quickly and in an appropriate manner.
“If any CRC service-users are identified as causing antisocial behaviour, they will be robustly challenged and may be returned to court for re-sentencing, or could be recalled to prison if there is evidence of an increase in their risk of causing harm.
“Anyone who witnesses any antisocial behaviour should immediately report it to the police by calling 101, so it can be investigated.”