Discussion Forum
Hebden Bridge is out of control

From Jo M
Monday, 22 October 2007

On Friday evevning at 8.30pm myself and my husband had to call in at Hebden Bridge.

As we approached the top of Crown street I was very shocked to see a gang of about 50 youths and young men crowding the area near the telephone box all with cans of lager, bottles of wine and various other alchoholic drinks. The youngest looked about eleven the eldest in his fifties. We pulled into Crown Street and ran the gaunlet of packs of youths all drinking and very intoxicated.

To say we were shocked is an understatement. I have been reading about the problem in the local press but didn't believe it was so bad until I saw it with my own eyes. I cannot get over it.

We sat in the car and watched as smoke started billowing from the top of the road we had just passed.Youths were running towards this and we decided it wasn't safe to get out of the car and pulled out.

As we passed Crown Street fisheries we passed a lone policeman who was totally outnumbered by youths on every corner of this area drinking. A boy of I would say no older than sixteen walked passed the policeman carrying two large boxes each containing 28 cans of lager. Policeman turned a blind eye.

We pulled out of the junction to go to Mytholmroyd Co-op after abandoning Hebden to see another pack of about 20 youths gathered around an illegally parked car that was openingly dealing.
We continued our journey watching a scene of total out of control destruction going on.

I am so very, very shocked. Why can't the police control this ??

Is it possible to ban alcohol on the streets so youths can be picked up? I really don't know the solution. But a message to parents. If your child goes into Hebden on a Friday night please take a look at what is going on. You will be very surprised.

Posted by Larry Kin
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Replace the word 'youth' and its cognates with 'blacks' in Jo M's post and you would have a plainly racist piece of hate-mongering. Somehow though it is perfectly acceptable to castigate young people solely for being young. From what was written it doesn't appear though that it was the youthfulness of the people that was the issue (the issues seem to be: people gathering in public; people drinking in public; people running towards smoke; police being outnumbered by the public; parking on double-yellow lines; dealing drugs). The two issues that did appear to be age relevant were incidental to what the drive of the post was - presumably the gathering of lots of people in public would have been worrying to Jo M whether or not there was an 11 year old there. Perhaps they are concerned that an 11 year old is drinking, but of course this isn't illegal, and neither is it illegal for 16 year olds to carry alcohol down the road (it may be of interest to learn that other things that 16 year olds can do include having children, leaving school, getting jobs, living on their own). If the concern about the 11 year old is that they are in a dangerous situation without their parents (although that isn't obvious given the age range that you point to), then this is a separate issue.

Please try not to conflate concern for people who may be more at risk of putting themselves in dangerous situations with an unwarranted fear and hatred of young people. Or, less charitably, please do not dress up unwarranted hatred and fear of young people as concern for people who may be putting themselves at risk.

Posted by Lou
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

What a shame that the second comment seemed to totally detract from the comments of the first person.

The issue here seems to be the large groups of people - whoever they may be, whatever age they may be, and whatever colour they may be - drinking actually on our local streets (and not in the pubs/clubs) and who intimidate others, plus the concerns of lack of police control, or indeed the lack of Police.

I also am shocked by the kind of behaviour as described in the first post, and would like to see a ban on drinking alcohol on the streets. I'm not sure what happened when they tried to ban drinking on the streets of Halifax, and I'm not sure if the ban still applies.

Surely the Police could have got wind by now of the open dealing of drugs in certain spots. It just needs people willing to report this, and for the Police to respond quickly - although this would appear to be something the Police seem unable to do these days!

Posted by Jacob G
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Larry, your mail is the reactionary one here. Have you any experience of these gatherings? Do you know the people that are taking part? I suggest that you don't. Would you describe the behaviour of these gatherings as acceptable? Or just a bit of fun and mischief? The open drug dealing has been going on for some time, as has drunkenness and glue sniffing. Mostly, it is tolerated. However, Jo M felt intimidated and moved to response. Your reply is not based on any experience of being there at the time and merely attempts to undermine Jo's perfectly valid account of her experience.

Posted by Brian T
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Larry, it doesn't look like you have compehended Jo's points or concerns correctly.

I don't think trying to skew the discussion by introducing a word such as 'black' to try and invoke some sort of reaction is the best way to see the truth.

Yes, you can change a word in a sentance to change the meaning: 'conflate concern' could read 'cornflake concern' for example, or you could consider changing your name from Larry to Wayne perhaps...

I think Jo has every right to voice and express her genuine concerns without being subjected to rather picky patronisation please Larry!

And for the record, the police do have the power to act on drinking in public, if they choose to do so.

Posted by Damian L
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Larry - Open you eyes. Whilst 50 seems an excessive head count Jo is making a very valid point. You only have to look around Hebden or Mytholmroyd to see the results of antisocial behaviour, indeed vandalised bus stops are a regular feature of this forum. The reality is that both towns are roamed by groups of children/teenagers who are drinking/taking drugs and inflicting their antisocial behaviour on the rest of us.

I also think your parallel with racism is bang out of order. There is a big difference between treating somebody as second class because of their skin colour, and criticising them for their behaviour. The problem isn't exclusively the younger age group (I'll grant you that) but they are a highly visible part of it, and I would wager the group age demographic doesn't match that of the population as a whole. My own observations and experience fall broadly in line with what Jo is pointing out. It's one of the reasons behind my fairly recent decision, despite living in the area for most of my life, to leave the valley, which I've now done.

Posted by Larry Kin
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Continually referring to 'youths' doing this and 'youths' doing that implies that it is something about the youthfulness of the perpetrators of the actions that is relevant- that it is because they are youthful that they are engaged in such activities. Suppose (as presumably was not the case given the whiteness of the Hebden Bridge demographic) that most of the people involved were black, suppose furthermore that the proportion of black people among the perceived troublemakers was far greater than the proportion of black people in the local population. If someone was to complain about a large group of black people hanging around, a large group of black people drinking, a large group of black people running towards some smoke, a large group of black people gathered around a car dealing drugs, we would assume that that person wished to imply that it was because the people were black that they were engaged in this activity, or that there was something about their blackness that made these activities particularly pernicious- otherwise why refer to their blackness. Similarly, why refer to the youthfulness of the people so frequently if we are not supposed to infer that this somehow makes the activity worse or that there is a causal link between being young and engaging in such activity?

My original comment is not about whether or not what Jo M claims happened was acceptable, rather it was about whether or not Jo M's rhetoric was acceptable. The claim is that it unfairly implies that there is some causal connection between being young and behaving in such and such a way. Suppose that it was clear that the behaviour of the people concerned was unacceptable then we would have reason to complain about the behaviour of those involved but we cannot generalise (implicitly or otherwise) to one group of society just because the demographic make of those involved is such and such.

The post of Jo M is only one of many on this discussion board that makes reference to youths that if made about black people would be clearly racist, but is worryingly accepted by many here. We can grant that there are lots of young people involved in a particular unfavourable activity, just as it might be the case in a particular area that a disproportionately high number of black people are involved in some other unfavourable acitivity, but this does not force us to infer (nor should it be implied) that it is because the person is young or because they are black that they behave in such a way, to do so is to display your prejudices in a fairly unpleasant manner.

Jacob G- hopefully this addresses you post fully, and hopefully it addresses the first sentence in Lou's.

Brian T- hopefully this addresses your concerns, for clarity though the purpose of showing that one could change a word and its cognates was to show that an analogous argument could be made were the group of people involved to be black, and that were that the case we could clearly see that the post would be racist- in which case we should infer that there is something wrong with the original post's continual reference to 'youths'. Your 'cornflake', 'conflate' argument suggests that you missed the significance of this point on your first reading. Furthermore it is not clear that someone does have the (moral) right to voice prejudicial concerns without being challenged on that prejudice. That police have the power to act on drinking in public does not make it illegal to drink in public.

Damian - hopefully it is apparent now that I was not making a claim about the impact of the group of people involved. I agree that there is a difference between treating somebody as second class because of their skin colour and criticising them for their behaviour, however it is not clear that it was solely the latter that Jo M was doing. It seems, as I pointed out above, that much of the rhetoric implies that there is something about their youthfulness that was either the cause of or an exacerbation of the impact of the problem, this is tantamount to being analogous to the racism example.

Posted by Jim Band
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

I agree with Larry completely.

And the post seems a bit weird to me. Read it carefully and it's full of odd language and contradictions.

For example, how exactly can you see dealing from a car which is surrounded by 20 people?

And how many "gangs" of youths would count a fifty year old as one of their number?

More importantly though, I was around the centre of Hebden (I dropped into Oasis and The White Lion) at exactly the same time on Friday and saw nothing remotely like this going on.

From Jo M
Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Larry. Sorry to disappoint. I am neither racist nor ageist.

The point of my posting a comment was I was shocked and amazed at what was going on in front of my eyes. I have two teenagers so I do know about teen behavior, but the point was also that it wasn't just youths but young men as well. They were aged between 20-40. I know what I saw and that was youths drinking in the street, youths running towards fire, illegally parked car dealing drugs. I think I am in the right to be concerned as a parent and a local.

Posted by Lou
Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Unfortunately Larry, your explanation does not in any way convince me.

Anything which makes people feel so intimidated whilst going about their every day (or evening) business is not good news, and the Police should be clearly in evidence to put a stop to it.

I am completely with Jo on this one!

From Jo M
Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Thanks for that Lou.I thought I was going mad when I read Larry's comments. And for the record Larry there were no Blacks or Asians.

Jim, I know how many were around the car as we were stationary opposite them at a junction. The dealers were sat on the bonnet taking money and passing wraps.

I have only wrote an account of what I saw. I have lived in Hebden for thirty years and have always felt safe until Friday. I am sorry that Larry likes to turn everything into a black, white issue and find it fascinating that he seems to think Hebden does not have a problem.

Any people drinking excessively, shouting, intimidating, lighting fires in the street, dealing and causing a nuisance of themselves needs to stop and take a step back, and see how this is affecting a small town.

From Janice S
Thursday, 25 October 2007

I know several young people who won't come into Hebden Bridge (or Todmorden) on Friday and Saturday evenings because of the behaviour of other young people in the town. At least one of them was beaten up for no reason by a gang of young men. To be concerned about the behaviour of some youths isn't a form of age prejudice, especially if they are underage drinkers or are buying illegal drugs.

Incidentally 'Larry Kin' - should your name be spelled 'larrikin', defined as a 'boisterous, often badly behaved young man'?

From Simon James
Friday, 26 October 2007

Well said Larry! Although I'm uneasy with your racist analogy I appreciate the point you're making. As has been previously noted on this site, Hebden Bridge has NO provision for its young people and so they are left to roam the streets. We should also remember the Friday in question was the start of half term, so I suggest a group celebration was taking place. I'm often out and about around Hebden on Friday and Saturday nights and can tell you that any trouble is very rare!

In no way do I feel intimated by the young people as I have taken the time and effort to get to know some of their names and they're more then happy to say hello as I walk past. I do not consider large groups of young people congregating to constitute anti-social behaviour. What I do consider to be anti-social is the attitude of the 'Daily Mail' readers to the situation. Maybe if they changed their perspective the perceived problems in Hebden would disappear overnight?

From Tim Swift
Friday, 26 October 2007

Jo M raises the question of whether people can be banned from drinking on the streets.

Last year, the Council agreed to introduce a "Designated Public Places Order". This does not directly ban drinking in the public, but it gives the Police a power to ask anyone who is drinking in a public place to surrender whatever they are drinking, and makes it an offence if they fail to do so.

The area covered by this order, as I understand it, includes most of the built up areas in Calderdale and certainly includes the centre of Hebden Bridge.

Assuming that the order was properly enacted, then this does give the Police the power to respond to the situation described in this thread.

I am checking to see whether and to what extent this power has been used since it was introduced.

From Lou
Friday, 26 October 2007

Jo M mentions "lager, bottles of wine and various other alchoholic drinks", as well as "packs of youths all drinking and very intoxicated".

Simon James states "I do not consider large groups of young people congregating to constitute anti-social behaviour. What I do consider to be anti-social is the attitude of the 'Daily Mail' readers to the situation. Maybe if they changed their perspective the perceived problems in Hebden would disappear overnight?"

What Simon James seems to have failed to acknowlege in his comments is that in this case alchohol appears to have played a very large part in the proceedings.

Therefore it is not merely a congregation of a large group of people. It is a large group of people plus alchohol, and many of that group in an intoxicated state. That is where the anti-social bit comes in. It is extremely intimidating to a great many people, and especially women!

Perhaps I missed where the "Daily Mail" came into all of this, but maybe Simon J is kidding himself if he thinks that if the readers "changed their perspective the perceived problems in Hebden would disappear overnight"!

From Simon James
Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Lou, you make some very valid points, and I appreciate your perspective. However, teenagers drink, this will not change. Personally, I'd prefer they did so in safe well-lit streets rather than by the canal, the railway track or other hidden venues.

Perhaps I do not feel intimated because, as I previously mentioned, I have taken the time to get to know them. I'm also over six foot and fairly well built.

Banning is not the answer, and neither are the police, this is a social issue. Looking back over the forum I saw the Street Angel comments in the Anti-Social behaviour thread

Could this be a local social solution to a local social issue?

From Ellie W
Monday, 7 January 2008

For all of the debate on this post, I live on Crown Street and can absolutely say that this is a problem on Friday nights. I've lived here for 2 years and there are younger people (too young to be served in the pubs) hanging around on the street.

There isn't much else for them to do, fair enough. However they are loud, their language is foul and they do intimidate others.

When I have spoken to the police and council about this, I have been told to report it to the police when it occurs. I do this regularly but nothing is ever done. Anyone who suggests that there is not a problem is in cloud cuckoo land. It is the one and only thing I do not like about Hebden Bridge. Something needs to be done, now.

From Jim Band
Monday, 7 January 2008


I appreciate that the behaviour you describe must be a nuisance, however, describing the town as out of control as this thread does, is a gross exaggeration. This thread has been totally inactive since October, so either people have stopped caring, or (as was predicted) things have quietened down a whole lot. Notably, without the need for Draconian measures.

It must be worth considering that hundreds (maybe thousands) of towns and communities in the UK would gladly swap places with Hebden for a bit of peace and quiet.

I'd be surprised if you could find a place to live (as centrally, and as close to pub and shops) anywhere in the UK and not find yourself facing the same kind of problems. Unless it was a retirement village of course!

From Graham Barker
Tuesday, 8 January 2008

beg to differ with Jim. The yobs and yobbery haven't gone away; it's just that 'situation depressingly normal' doesn't make for interesting postings. I read in the Courier that the Street Angels are to visit us 'on a monthly basis' (in old money, once a month). Good luck to them, but it's difficult to see them making any significant difference unless they can magic alcohol away from underage youths and put rockets up the backsides of (a) parents who won't or can't control their offspring and (b) the police. One can debate endlessly whether or not Hebden Bridge is out of control, but what's fairly clear is that the police are not in control.

The West Yorkshire Police Authority is though at least planning to hold a couple of open sessions some day soon - one daytime, one evening - about policing in Hebden Bridge, but seems to be making heavy weather of booking a venue. Complaints about police ineffectiveness are definitely hitting home, so I can only suggest that as many of us as possible turn up and put our points across.

And while I'm in the mood, I'd like to take a swipe at a couple of common explanations for anti-social behaviour. First: 'there's nothing for kids to do round here'. So what? There never was and probably never will be. When I was a teenager in the 1960s, I remember moaning to my dad that there was 'nothing to do' - and this in Leeds! He pointed out that when he was a teenager in the 1930s there was 'nothing to do' then either. Plus ça change… One eventually learns that life is what you make of it, not what other people lay on for you. Amend it to: 'there's nothing that kids are prepared to do round here' and you're closer to the mark.'

Second: 'there's nothing new about teenagers and alcohol'. Correct. But what’s different is that the main motivation used to be to slip discreetly into pubs and start acting like an adult, or at least like some romantic notion of an adult. It wasn't to drink oneself stupid with one's mates on street corners or in hidey-holes. When you were desperately trying to pass yourself off as 18, the last thing you could afford to do was hang out with a bunch of blatantly juvenile dorks who couldn't hold their drink. Nor did you much want to end up in A&E, which seems to be the weekend destination of choice for so many young people nowadays.

From Jim Band
Friday, 11 January 2008


Are you suggesting that the 60's were a more peaceful, well-behaved decade?

I'm not old enough to remember the 60's, but from what I gather, it had it's fair share of troubles with the behaviour of the younger generations. Do you remember the Mods, the Rockers, the razor gangs, the widespread experimentation with recreational drugs? The 60's and 70's pioneered drinking and drug taking! Even the history of football hooliganism stretches back to the 30's.

Perhaps it is time to lose the rose-tinted view of these earlier decades, or move to wherever it is that you believe these things do not occur.

From Cllr Joanna Beacroft Mitchell
Saturday, 12 January 2008

Sorry to hear you are so cynical Mr Barker. But you may like to know that on the nights that the Street Angels patrol in Halifax the police reported a 40% decrease in crime and antisocial behaviour. I see no reason to expect that this won't be the case in Hebden Bridge and only hope that the Angels can extend their visits to a weekly basis as soon as possible. Perhaps you would like to join as a volunteer?

From Ian M
Saturday, 12 January 2008

Cllr, I wonder what sort of reduction in crime and anti social behavior could be achieved if we had full time Police patrolling the town instead of Monday to Friday, 9-5?

From Cllr Joanna Beacroft Mitchell
Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Couldn't agree more - sadly WY polices 'consultation' process on these matters is nothing of the sort.

From Ian M
Sunday, 10 February 2008

If you "couldn't agree more" and you believe that the Police are merely paying lip service to our concerns, as an elected representative, what do you propose to do about it?

From Cllr Joanna Beacroft Mitchell
Tuesday, 12 February 2008


We have regular Hebden Royd meetings where local community police are invited to speak with us about concerns around policing in Hebden Royd so we raise issues with them there. We were also invited to comment on the proposals to shut down the station etc. and objected at every opportunity.