Former UK City of Culture ‘being overrun by zombie druggies’

The city of Hull is fast turning into a scene from zombie film ‘Shaun of the Dead’, according to some – with a depressing scene visible over 30 minutes.

Yesterday the Hull Daily Mail spent half an hour observing rough sleepers in the heart of the city, and the reactions of passers by.

In recent weeks, Hull’s homeless population has come under scrutiny for brawling and drug-taking in full view of the public, including young children.

They have been condemned for scaring away shoppers, with some likening the scene to the horror-comedy film starring Simon Pegg.

In the space of 30 minutes, this is what the Hull Daily Mail saw:

  • At least ten homeless people in various huddles outside McDonald’s
  • Nearly all the rough sleepers looked "zombie-like" with expressionless faces
  • Some begged shoppers for money
  • Two were seen repeatedly going in and out of the phone box
  • Rough sleepers were seen lighting up and smoking unknown substances that did not look like cigarettes
  • Chucking rubbish on the ground
  • The rough sleepers running away when two PCSOs walked down Jameson Street

As you would expect, their clothes were ragged and their hands were dirty, but it was the emotionless and vacant expressions which caused many passers-by the greatest concern.

The word "zombie" more than fits a description of these people and it is not something that shoppers want to be seeing during a lunchtime browse on the high street.

McDonald’s is also a popular meeting place for dozens of Hull teenagers.

Today was no exception and they were just metres away from people who were smoking and squeezing themselves into phone boxes. It’s an odd sight which raises a lot of eyebrows, and it’s fair to say, we’re retty sure they weren’t in there to make phone calls.

When there was a sudden downpour and then two policemen arrived, the group quickly dispersed with some heading to find shelter in abandoned shop doorways lined with cardboard.

The debate over the impact rough sleepers are having on Hull city centre has raged on in the past few days and today, more Mail readers on Facebook have had their say on the matter.

Greg Mooney thinks the presence of rough sleepers and drug-takers will “kill the city centre” and undo all of the achievements made during Hull’s spotlight year as the UK City of Culture.

He said: “Who wants to take their kids or wife/girlfriend out to a show or for a meal with druggies and homeless people everywhere?! And I mean everywhere in the city centre.

“The New Theatre and Hull Venue will suffer for business when people see what you have to avoid to get to the Venue.”

Leigh Cutsforth said she is sick of seeing “waste of space low life drains on society” in the popular shopping destination.

“[I] went into town last week and saw at least a dozen of them begging and out of their faces. One woman was sat with a copper who clearly couldn’t even hold her head up.

“Copper walked away and 10 minutes later she was sparked out on the floor while her ‘friend’ was rolling up on a bench near McDonald’s.”

“[It] sickens me that they get to live and breathe while there are other people literally fighting for their lives!!”

The issue of homelessness is on Humberside Police’s agenda and the lunchtime appearance of two officers shows they are monitoring the situation.

They are keen for anybody who sees drug-taking or antisocial behaviour in the city centre to report it to them straight away.

Chief Inspector Michelle Garlick from Hull’s community policing team, said: “We know that not every incident is reported to us and we’re encouraging residents and business owners to tell us about their concerns and report issues to us.

“By telling us about what’s happening in your area, we can make sure we target our patrols in the right place at the right time – and can pass information to our partners about where they need to target their resources too.”

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