‘It’s worse than ever’ - inside one of Bristol’s antisocial behaviour hotspots

There were 198 anti-social behaviour crimes reported between June 2021 and May 2022

Bedminster barber Vince Bellavia doesn’t need to see hard data about anti-social behaviour crimes in the area surrounding his shop - he sees it for himself most days.

We visited the area - which includes East Street, Bedminster Parade and the area around Whitehouse Lane and York Road - on publishing an investigation which showed deprived areas were more likely to suffer from antisocial behaviour.

“It’s worse than ever,” says Mr Bellavia, who has been cutting hair around Bedminster Parade for more than 50 years.

“There’s a lot of trouble with druggies and the police don’t seem to be doing anything about it, things are not good.”

Barber Vince Bellavia has seen drug users injecting themselves near his East Street shop

One of the problems is a narrow alley near to Mr Bellavia’s shop, which connects Bedminster Parade with Stillhouse Lane.

The passageway has long attracted drug users who inject themselves there or use the lane as a toilet.

Mr Bellavia says: “There are always a lot of people drinking alcohol outside Asda across the road and every so often they’ll come across to the lanes and use it as a toilet or take drugs.

“They’re not allowed to use Asda because security won’t let them in to use the toilets so they come over here and I see them injecting in broad daylight.

“It’s not good for the area. Our business since Covid has really gone down anyway and now lot of people are put off coming down here because of the anti-social behaviour.”

Erdal Ozcelik, owner of Olive & Fig cafe, which was broken into this week

Across the road on Bedminster Parade, Olive & Fig cafe owner Erdal Ozcelik is still counting the cost of a break-in this week.

It’s the first time his cafe has been broken into in the nine years he has run it but he says it’s symptomatic of the wider problems in the area.

“It has got worse since the pandemic,” says Mr Ozcelik. “People need more money, they are more desperate.

“Yesterday they broke the window, got in, smashed the till and took about £300 cash, plus the coins in the tips jar. I’ll now be installing CCTV for the first time, I have no choice.

“This is laminated glass so not easy to break. The people in the flat above said it was about 2.30am in the morning. They heard lots of noise but didn’t come down in case they had a knife.”

At Polish deli Krakus, there have been several thefts. A shop assistant, who didn’t want to be named, told Bristol World that one of the local street drinkers regularly came into the shop and left without paying for bottles and cans of alcohol.

Calico & Co fabric shop on Bedminster Parade is also adjacent to a lane frequented by drug users.

Shop worker Valerie said the police have been called out a few times and the council cleared the lane of rubbish and drug paraphernalia but the problems continue.

One of the lanes on Bedminster Parade which has been used by drug users

“The lane is terrible and people use it as a toilet all the time, which is disgraceful as you sometimes get schoolchildren walking through there.

“Some of our customers have said it’s disgraceful so I’ve even cleaned it up myself because I felt I had to, but it’s not a very nice job.

“They put the needles down the drain and even in a little grill we have at the side - some of them have blood on. I see people sitting there injecting themselves and lighting tin foil to smoke drugs.

“The shop can absolutely stink of drugs because it comes through the grill. Sometimes, we can smell the drugs all day and so can the customers. Yesterday was bad, the smell was terrible and I’m worried it might get into the fabrics so we go around spraying the shop.

“It’s also affecting our deliveries as some drivers can’t even go down the lane with rolls of fabric because of the number of people sitting there.”

Barley Mow customers Mac and Steve think the rise in anti-social behaviour in Bedminster is ‘disgusting'

At the nearby Barley Mow, pensioners Mac and Steve are enjoying their roll-ups on the pavement between pints inside.

Regulars at the East Street pub for the past 50 years, they say they’ve seen the area go downhill and they say it’s getting worse.

“Just look at it - it’s like f****** Beirut down here, mate,” says Mac, gesturing towards street drinkers outside Asda and empty units on Bedminster Parade.

“There’s supposed to be a no street drinking zone down here but nobody does anything about it.

“There’s beggars and druggies everywhere down here, it’s disgusting. We’re pensioners so it’s frightening but if anybody comes near me, I’ve got my walking stick!

“The police don’t do anything. Have you seen any coppers walking up and down here - they’re probably all in London for the Queen’s funeral.

“There are people walking around here with young kids - it puts families off coming down here, it’s a disgrace.”

’Inside the leafy surburb that won’t tolerate antisocial behaviour - Read our story tomorrow on people in a neighbourhood with one of the lowest levels of anti-social behaviour in Bristol