Walsall housing estate ‘Britain’s roughest’ as a squashed rat is found in a park - and locals agree
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A housing estate in Walsall has been named ‘Britain’s roughest’ by a travel vlogger who found a squashed rat in a children’s park.
And residents in Blakenall Heath agree with one saying: "I think it's a fair reflection of the area.” Others have told how they are living in fear and compared their neighbourhood to 'war-torn Ukraine'. They say their lives have been plagued by gangs of knife-wielding youths, some as young as 10, who have been causing havoc for the past three years.
The UK Explored Youtube channel, which gives tours of cities and towns across the country, said the estate "felt and smelt dangerous" with a crime rate double the UK average with latest figures showing 152 crimes per 1,000 people, which is worse than Birmingham.
The presenter discovers a flattened dead rat in a children's play park while filming around the area. He says: "To be honest it scared me. The moment I walked on to Dawson Street a woman told me to 'F off'. She made a call on her phone and I didn't wait to see who she was calling and made a quick exit.
"There are 400 crimes reported each month in Blakenall alone. Most of which are violent offences and antisocial behaviour. When I googled the news for the area it was nothing short of shocking. There were stories of people being shot at and children tearing up pigeons and throwing them into the chippy. And a young kid was blinded after being stabbed. Blakenall is certainly one of the most dangerous estates in the country. It felt dangerous, it smelt dangerous and I was happy to move on."
Blakenhall Heath residents react to ‘Britain’s roughest estate’ tag
Local resident Andy Bloxham, 38, said: "I think it's a fair reflection of the area. The video makes it look worse than it is but there's no denying it's rough as anything. It's a shame as there's some lovely people here, we've just got more than our fair share of mindless idiots bringing the area down.
"People shouldn't be living in fear in their own homes. It's been a year since our little estate first made headlines and since then nothing has changed. It's still the same. If anything these gangs see being named Britain's roughest estate as a badge of honour."
Locals previously told how their lives were blighted by violence and anti-social behaviour and they are too scared to leave their homes - even in the daytime. It followed a string of incidents including arson attacks, fly-tipping, thefts, assaults, racist attacks and vandalism. Residents said the area had also become a 'no-go zone' for police because their squad cars get pelted with bricks. One local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "It had got to the point where we are scared to leave our homes even in the daytime. The place has just rapidly declined into almost a state of lawlessness since the pandemic. Before then we did have issues but not to the scale we are seeing now. It's like a war-zone out there at times. It's just diabolical - but that's Blakenhall for you. It's become a no-go zone for police and that is what is most worrying. You just don't go out after 3pm."
One shopkeeper, who also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, added: "I have lost staff members who just can't face being abused on a daily basis. They come in and steal eggs and then use those eggs to pelt the shop. We get racially abused too, we've just had enough."
Independent Blakenall ward councillor Pete Smith previously said: "It's like something from war-torn Ukraine." He added: "There was also this poor pigeon that had its head ripped off outside a shop before they pulled its wings off and just ripped it to pieces."
West Midlands Police brought in a 48-hour dispersal order for Blakenall after violence flared on November 2 and youths pelted police cars with bricks. In July, in nearby Bloxwich, a man was knifed and Bailey Atkinson, also local to the area, was stabbed to death in Walsall in January. A 13-year-old boy was also left permanently blind after being stabbed in the eye outside a fish and chip shop in Blakenall last August.