‘Hellhole Island’: Residents living on a ‘ghost town’ island where gangs run riot because you ‘never see police’ say it has no-go zones where they would not visit ‘for a million pounds’

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Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent (pictured) has been dubbed 'the town that time forgot' by furious locals

Residents living on a ‘ghost town’ island claim gangs of youths ‘control’ the streets because they ‘never see police officers’.

Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent has been dubbed ‘the town that time forgot’ by furious locals who ‘feel abandoned’ by the authorities.

Families say they are scared to send their kids to school and locals are fleeing the island in the Thames Estuary for safer communities elsewhere.

MailOnline visited the port-town, with a population of 21,139,  ranked the second most dangerous small town in Kent and one of the top 20 most dangerous out of England.

Fly-tipping, crime, thefts, drug use and a ‘complete lack of community spirit’ have driven the area into ‘abject desperation’, according to locals.

One woman said: ‘It is a hellhole island. There’s parts of here I would not be paid a million pounds to visit. It is terrible.’

Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent (pictured) has been dubbed ‘the town that time forgot’ by furious locals

Residents living on a 'ghost town' island claim gangs of youths 'control' the streets because they 'never see police officers'. Pictured: Sheerness high street

Residents living on a ‘ghost town’ island claim gangs of youths ‘control’ the streets because they ‘never see police officers’. Pictured: Sheerness high street

Pictured: Sofas and table are dumped at the side of the road in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey

Pictured: Sofas and table are dumped at the side of the road in Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey

Sheerness is the biggest town on the Isle of Sheppey on the Thames Estuary in Kent

Sheerness is the biggest town on the Isle of Sheppey on the Thames Estuary in Kent

Sheerness has a crime rate of 181 crimes per 1,000 – ahead of the average Kent rate of 88. The majority of issues were connected to anti-social behaviour, drugs and criminal damage.

It is also the biggest town on the Isle of Sheppey and known for being home to three prisons – including maximum security HMP Swaleside. 

In 2006 18-year-old Christopher Alaneme was brutally murdered there after he was chased by a gang of five white men who were on holiday.

One Youtuber even gave it the name ‘hellhole island’.

One man on Tiktok said: ‘Most people think the Isle of Sheppey is a prison colony – but it’s far worse than that.’ 

He also said in a video it was ‘probably the most dangerous place in the whole of the south east’.

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Margaret Jackson, 67, who lives in Sheerness, told MailOnline: ‘It is a hellhole island. There’s parts of here I would not be paid a million pounds to visit. It is terrible.

‘It’s got so much worse in the last few years.

‘There is a lot of violence and anti-social behaviour. The youths run riot. They control some of the estates and people won’t go near them.

‘The high street is a ghost town and like the town that time forgot.

‘They just bring the dregs of society to live here. Not many local people live here anymore.

‘They have all come in from outside.

‘Some of them are the roughest of the rough and cause nothing but misery to the rest of the town and the island in general. They are appalling.’

James McCreadie, of Linden Road, Sheerness was the third man to be sent to prison in 2022, for being part of a gang of thieves who repeatedly targeted people in the town.

One shopkeeper said: ‘We have been abandoned. It’s like a ghost town. Shops are so empty. There’s nothing to do.

Locals in the port town (pictured) say they feel abandoned by the authorities and government

Locals in the port town (pictured) say they feel abandoned by the authorities and government

Pictured: A shop on Sheerness high street apologises for closing down and directs shoppers to a nearby store on the mainland

Pictured: A shop on Sheerness high street apologises for closing down and directs shoppers to a nearby store on the mainland

Pictured: A shop with paint peeling off its sign in Sheerness town centre where locals feel 'abandoned'

Pictured: A shop with paint peeling off its sign in Sheerness town centre where locals feel ‘abandoned’

Pictured: Rows of vans are lined up in the docks of Sheerness - a port on the Thames estuary

Pictured: Rows of vans are lined up in the docks of Sheerness – a port on the Thames estuary

‘The scenery is beautiful but that counts for nothing if there’s not anything to bring people or entertain them.

‘There’s been an explosion in tanning places and barber shops – but nothing which is of any long-term or real use.

‘There’s so many empty shops but the solution is not filling them with just hairdressers and tanning places and vape shops.’

Retired Ingrid Rice, 71, said: ‘You never see a police officer in this town.

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‘There is crime. It’s everywhere. It used to be really nice here. It’s such a shame what has happened.

‘There used to be lots of pubs and it was a great night out. Now so many places are empty.’

Just last summer 35-year-old, Sam Petrou, was shot dead at a Sheerness holiday park. Police arrested five people in total over the death of the father after his body was discovered in a caravan at Cliff Cottage in Chalet Park in June 2023. 

Pictured: The crossing from the Isle of Sheppey to mainland Kent. Locals say neighbours have been fleeing the town

Pictured: The crossing from the Isle of Sheppey to mainland Kent. Locals say neighbours have been fleeing the town

Locals say Sheerness boasts 'beautiful' views but described the state of the town as 'heart-breaking. Pictured: A mural welcoming tourists to the town

Locals say Sheerness boasts ‘beautiful’ views but described the state of the town as ‘heart-breaking. Pictured: A mural welcoming tourists to the town

Ingrid said she was also upset at how some vacant shops had been filled.

She added: ‘We used to have a local shoe shop and a shop for each thing you needed. There’s none of that now. It’s just tanning places.

‘The town is dead.’

Her friend, Chris Kelly, 71, added: ‘There’s plenty of money for cycle lanes and endless things like that but why not proper investment in the town?

‘It’s a beautiful place to live. The views out to the sea are fantastic.

‘It’s heartbreaking what has happened to the town itself though.’

One couple said they wanted to get out ‘as soon as humanly possible’.

A mum said: ‘I don’t feel safe raising children here. There’s always something.

‘It’s dreadful.’

Another added: ‘My family refuse to visit me which is pretty bad, all because of where I live. There’s nothing to do, it’s like a zombie town.’

Merdan Yildirim, 29, who owns Island Fish Bar, said: ‘It is a ghost town. I’m not sure how so many shops became empty. It is a real shame.

‘More money needs to be invested. The pavements are a nightmare, people are always tripping.’

Others were keen to defend the area.

Pete Hinds, 63, said: ‘It’s fine. What do people expect, Monte Carlo?’

Busker Steve Harding, 75, who has lived in the town since 1987 – said he ‘loved’ the area.

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He added: ‘The people are great. They are very happy with what I do.

‘I think it’s fantastic.’

Insp Vanessa Foster from Swale’s Neighbourhood Task Force said: ‘Over the last year, officers on the Isle of Sheppey have continued to respond to concerns and issues raised by residents and business owners. 

‘Sheerness, as the main town, experiences a higher level of offences and we have deployed additional patrols to tackle any issues in this area. 

‘The officers, working in uniform and plain clothes, are focused on targeting prolific offenders night and day, including those who have recently been released from prison and pose a potential risk of returning to crime.

‘During this period, we have reduced burglaries to people’s homes by more than half, from 68 to 24. 

‘We have also been working closely with retailers and their security teams in the town to ensure repeat shoplifters are swiftly identified and brought to justice, and this has also led to an encouraging reduction in thefts. 

‘Local officers have been particularly effective in identifying offenders through the examination of CCTV and where the suspects are detained, investigators from our Victim Based Crime Team have ensured they are charged and brought before the courts.

‘In addition to officers who patrol to keep our streets safe, we also have teams dedicated to tackling domestic related crime, managing sex offenders and bringing offenders to justice while supporting vulnerable victims.

‘This ongoing work has led to 229 fewer crimes in Sheerness Ward during 2023, when compared to the previous year. 

‘While this reduction in crime of nine percent is encouraging, we are not complacent and will continue to focus our resources into those areas where they can have the greatest impact. 

‘This work depends on assistance from members of the public and I would urge anyone who has concerns about crime in their area, to make a report via our website. If a crime is in progress, always dial 999.’

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Source: tit.edu.vn

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