Inside warzone UK town as soldier says he felt safer fighting in Afghanistan

A former soldier living in a town in the north of England said it's become so overrun with crime that he "felt safer fighting in Afghanistan".

Terrified families living in Blackley, north Manchester say they're too afraid to leave their homes over fears they'll be attacked – with one young mum admitting she orders a taxi to take her to the local shop after dark.

Parents say they fear for their children growing up in the area – which is six miles north of Manchester city centre – and one lifelong resident and former soldier described the town as a "warzone".

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the ex-soldier said he "felt safer in Afghanistan" than walking the streets where he grew up and claimed his cousin was recently threatened at knifepoint and had his electric scooter stolen.

He said: "It has totally changed from what it used to be.

"The place is just overrun by teenagers who threaten and intimidate people.

"These days kids have weapons and carry knives around with them. When there are groups of them together, it is really intimidating.

"In the evenings, I am too scared to even walk to the shop around the corner from my house and will drive there instead. You are constantly looking over your shoulder."

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Locals say the area has become overrun with teens armed with weapons.

Earlier this month, officers charged six teens aged 15 and 16 over robberies involving school children.

Two bus services were also forced to divert to avoid the area last week after windows were smashed.

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Meanwhile, a local shopkeeper, who asked not to be named over fears he would be targeted, described how thieves steal from his shop "at least two to three times a week".

He said: "Groups of kids come in all the time with their hoods up. They are either fighting outside or coming in here to trash the place and steal things.

"It has got so bad I am always taking pictures and videos – at least two to three times a week now. Just coming to work can be scary. It never used to be this bad."

CCTV footage seen by the MEN shows a young thug hurling a can at the shopkeeper's head. Another shocking clip showed a group of teens kicking in the glass door to the shop.

Chief Inspector Simon Nasim from the City of Manchester said that the police are aware of increasing reports of anti-social behaviour.

He said: "We understand the impact anti-social behaviour has on the lives of local residents and I want to reassure you that the Neighbourhood Policing Team is committed to tackling the issues and will take action against any perpetrators identified.

"We have increased patrols within the areas of concern, and are working with our partners to address the issues, and deter and disrupt those carrying out these offences.

"We encourage anybody with information that can assist us in identifying those responsible to contact us."

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