Inside our street of shame where kids as young as 10 are pestered by sex workers and robbed – we're scared to leave home | The Sun

RESIDENTS on a street of shame have told how they are scared to leave their homes as kids as young as ten are being are preyed on by sex workers, junkies, beggars and burglars.

Locals of Soho Road  – a busy quarter-of-a-mile long street in Handsworth on the outskirts of Birmingham – have told how they are sometimes too fearful to leave the safety of their own homes.

One great gran said: “I used to love living here, now it’s awful. It’s full of hookers, drinkers, druggies, beggars and crackheads, all the dregs, and we’re continually being harassed. It’s so scary."

Residents and workers – some keen to quit the neighbourhood  – have slammed police for “doing absolutely nothing” in the UK’s second biggest city in the West Midlands.

Prostitutes – some women just in their early twenties – converge on the strip to sell their bodies at all hours but mainly mornings before 10am and evenings.

They plague horrified locals either by making direct approaches or getting their pimps to target business people.

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Mum-of-three and school assistant Sinead revealed that her son had recently been approached by “women selling themselves."

Sinead, 30, who was too worried to divulge her full name, told The Sun Online: “It's shocking, it’s in your face and you get used to the behaviour and tolerate it, and then it gets worse."

The mother told how one of her boys was recently propositioned in the street.

She said: “The woman was begging for money and then she was offering her body for services. My son was so frightened, he’s only a kid. There was another one too."

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Sinead sighed: “Sometimes we’re too scared to come out. They days are normally fine but by evening the druggies hang out in the street approaching adults and children.

“It's not very nice and it's got visibly worse.

Speaking to our reporter today in a coffee shop while having an after school treat with her sons, she said: “Just yesterday when I was coming home from work a drug addict was there in front of me, clearly out of her mind, and begging me for money.

“At times you can’t stand it. There’s lots of homeless people too and they come out after 8pm and they’re out there begging and on every street corner there’s a prostitute, they walk in pairs and threes, and there are friendship circles of addicts everywhere.

“The most active area is outside the 24-hours shop, some are out with their blankets and begging.

“We can't take the children out at night any more, it's too alarming. If you want to go to a food shop to eat in or get a take out you just can't take the kids.”

We need more police on the street – they promise there will be but saying and doing is a big difference.

Sinead added: “I don't know what's made it so bad over the past months, people blame it on the cost of living crisis but I think it’s down to young people being kicked out of home for whatever reason, and then influenced in their new lifestyle and being trapped.”

Soho street – where some businesses are thriving, including jewellery, fashion and fabric shops, cafes and dessert parlours – boasts a mosque, a library, stores run round the clock by Eastern Europeans and a small grassy park.

Aqeel Aslam, boss of a coffee and dessert bar, told how he had been robbed twice in the past two months with “police doing absolutely nothing both times.”


The most recent crime happened last week in broad daylight at his Sweets Soho Coffee House” when a male posing as a customer walked in, threatened his female worker, stole the charity box containing cash on the counter and fled.

Aqeel, 44, said: “I wasn't working at the time but my member of staff was very shocked and upset.

“He verbally threatened her, there was no physical harm but she didn't challenge him because you never know what they may be carrying.

“That was the second theft in a few months. The first time they took a tray of sweets. You report it to police but they don't really care. They log in on their portals and that’s it."

He believes “the darker side of Soho Street is down to lack of funding and a lot of homelessness.”

He told The Sun Online: “People are struggling to make ends meet and it all kicks off in the evenings making early night treading for businesses difficult.

“They’ll do all sorts to make ends meet and tragically is has gone downwards in the last three months.

“We need more police on the street – they promise there will be but saying and doing is a big difference.

Following the thefts Aqueel is trying to spend all his time in store, particularly with the recent start of a new worker.

He explained that the area had recently been granted BID Improvement programme status.

BID – Business Improvement District –  is a business inspired and funded group aimed at improving a specific commercial region.

Soho Road – which like London’s Soho revels in its notorious red light district – appears a street in contradiction.

Behind shop, cafe and restaurant doors, respectable businesses seem to prosper with owners and workers intent on making their premises a “happy, welcoming and safe space.”

But outside their doors, litter and junk is strewn, including smashed beer bottles, syringes and needles, spent condoms, cigarette butts.

In a park, a small green area, just feet away the shopping street and overlooked by houses to the rear and side,  “the dregs hang out,” according to local pensioner and great gran Marian.

She said: “They all congregate there. I used to love living here, now it’s awful. It’s full of hookers, drinkers, druggies, beggars and crackheads, all the dregs, and we are  continually being harassed. It’s so scary.”

Ex pub worker Marian, 69, who was also too scared to give her surname, said: “It never used to be like this. You go to the park and you see them all hanging out , the needles and who knows what else discarded on the ground.

“I used to walk down here at al hours after work but now I daren’t, you get harassed and bothered. I hate walking around here now and I don’t feel safe. People are off their heads!"


Mum-of-four Marian, who has lived in the neighbourhood since 1990, said: “I used to love it here, now it is awful. I only come in when I really have to, like now to take some parcels back to the shop.

“Just the other day a woman with a placard was begging at me as I walked by, and I said to her ‘You give me some money.’ It’s awful.

“It’s a different type of person living here now, immigrants, beggars and robbers, riff-raff and Romany gipsies.

“It used to be a well respected area. Now shopkeepers have to keep a careful watch, the undesirables come in and they have to kick them out before they pinch anything or cause any trouble."

Dipak who works in her family clothing and fabric shop on the street, she was too concerned to name, said: “There are so many disgusting people here, prostitutes, outside, drink, drugs, swearing and fighting.”

The young woman, speaking from the calm and peace inside her beautiful and colourful shop, explained: “It all happens at 9.30am to 10am and then from 6pm onwards.

“There are girls on the street outside, 25 to 30 years old prostituting themselves.

“Others have bottles in hand, they are drinking, they are aggressive, it’s dangerous for us and the kids and the police do nothing.

“When my husband was helping out in the shop recently a drunk man came in and started getting very angry and aggessive. My husband asked him to leave, didn't force him, but he eventually did.

A coffee shop manager said: “There are problems everywhere. We make the shop as friendly and welcoming for adults and children using our facilities but we cannot control what happens outside.”

One of his young male customers said: “People are always in the street begging for money, littering and dropping needles.

“Druggies and alkies chuck anything anywhere, it is disgusting.

“It is horrific for us and particularly the children. That needs to change. Soho Road needs to change for the better and make it safer for us.”

As The Sun Online visited the street, where some locals say “you fear walking”, the problem became immediately apparent. 

Hooded men, walking alone or in small groups appeared to be spaced out on substances while others swigged from beer cans.

In the small park our female reporter, witnessing the woeful scenes first hand, was verbally abused by two men – one masked and hooded and shouting obscenities and a menacing middle-aged man staggering and slurring his speech as he attempted to approach.

None of their words made any sense but they came across as hostile and threatening.

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Strolling quickly to the cover of a nearby grocery shop while the hooded man followed and hung around outside, a resident told out reporter : “You fear walking here but you have to put up with it.

“It’s very intimidating. It is best to ignore them."

The Sun has contacted Birmingham Police for comment.

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