Gorseinon town has been “rocked to the core” following a serious stabbing leaving a 14-year-old boy in a critical condition in hospital.
Two boys, aged 14 and 15, have been arrested on suspicion of assault following the incident on Thursday, February 10, with another 14-year-old boy having been arrested today – Friday, February 11.
The boy was hurt in the area around Gorseinon bus station. There was a heavy police presence there on Friday, with business owners and residents questioning “how did it get to this stage?” and describing the bus station alongside Argyll Gardens as “a notorious hotspot for trouble and youth problems”.
Despite previous trouble in the area, they were shocked to see it flooded with police and forensic officers in white suits today, Friday, February 11.
One local business employee said that had it not been for her finishing early and catching an earlier bus, she would have likely witnessed the incident.
“I regularly catch the bus home at that time and there’s always been an issue of anti-social behaviour, there used to be a CCTV camera van stationed there and I don’t understand why it ever left – as soon as it did, the problems re-occurred,” said the woman, who did not want to be named – the case with many of those we spoke to – who feared the potential consequences of speaking out publicly about youths involved in previous trouble.
“There’s no lighting whatsoever, nobody monitoring the situation, buses are scared to even come here. I don’t feel safe going home and that’s become a norm for me”.
The incident comes after a police helicopter and cars descended on Lime Street on February 8, after reports of a woman screaming and man with knife, a neighbouring road to where the bus station is located.
Earlier this year, First Cymru ordered its drivers not to stop at the bus station following “repeated incidents” of nuisance and anti-social behaviour by youngsters.
Following the incidents, Gorseinon East councillor Pat Griffiths highlighted at that time that a stronger police presence was underway as buses returned, adding: “Police are getting involved more now. Police are spending more time in the bus station and councillors have been there to talk to them as well.
“Children aged around 14 upwards were gathering in gangs which has been intimidating for a lot of people. There is not a lot of respect there really”.
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However, following recent events both businesses and residents have begun to question where and why there is no longer any CCTV covering the area.
“These teenagers are incredibly reactive, these are groups of gangs and it’s not just in Gorseinon – it’s across Wales, its such a huge issue” said one business owner who also wished to remain unnamed out of fear of being targeted.
“They think they are untouchable and think they’re invincible. They have no consequences for their actions.”
Of the events of Thursday night, they added: “It’s shocking and awful and my thoughts are with the family and boy affected.”
A customer in their shop echoed similar arguments, adding that they felt the transportation hub was not currently safe, even though it was used by many vulnerable elderly people. They said: “No CCTV just plays into their hands, police need more support and powers to deal with the issue, powers for a limited amount of time will do nothing to resolve the issue for the future.”
“Our generation is being led by the youngsters, if we implement plans for one area – they will just move to another. It’s the same across Wales, not just here,” they said.
As concerns grew surrounding the safety of the area, another resident added of this week’s incident: “It’s rocked the community, nobody expected it to happen on your doorstep. it just shows something has to be done and I think knife violence has become a norm in Wales, it’s not specifically Gorseinon.”
Yolande Fret has owned Embellish Millinery for five years, moving to the area a few months ago.
She said: “We have had a customer in the past sitting and waiting for a bus only to have a 15-year-old grab and pull their hair from behind – these kids have no fear and things have changed to how they once were.
“They think they’re above the law. Once it goes dark – that area is a no-go zone and it’s so concerning that this has happened to such a small and connected area.
Of youngsters arming themselves the 51-year-old added: “I don’t understand why they have to carry a knife.”
Local residents on a neighbouring road to the park argued incidents were “inevitable” as things had got so bad.
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“There’s always kids hanging around here, playing loud music until around midnight and just two nights before we got woken up to a helicopter and sirens just down the street.” said one.
“It’s a huge concern and shock, they need to sort out the CCTV and I think social media has played a part in how the kids act, they know what’s going on and the powers are meaningless when you point it out online for all to see,” they said.
Sasha Gee regularly uses the bus station and was waiting at the temporary bus stop to return to her home in Penyrheol, discussing what had happened.
“I’m really shocked by it, everyone’s stunned and shocked that something so violent has happened. I don’t want to say there’s a knife problem but when you look at the past week, it suggests otherwise.
“It’s gotten so drastic thanks to social media, young people are very reactive and aware of what they’re doing, social media has desensitised them and made it normal for them to do this kind of behaviour and they don’t realise how serious their actions are. They think they are untouchable and it’s been such a long issue – I don’t know what the answer is,” the 49-year-old said.
Following the incident, South Wales Police issued its officers stop and search powers within a large area of Gorseinon aimed at preventing serious violence with concerns that the matter could escalate.
South Wales Police inspector Sharon Gill-Lewis said on Thursday night: “South Wales Police was called at just after 6.05pm this evening, Thursday, February 10, following reports of a 14-year-old having received injuries at Gorseinon Bus Station on West Street.
“The boy had suffered stab wounds and was subsequently taken to the University Hospital of Wales where he is being treated for his injuries. He is in a stable but critical condition.
“Two boys ages 14 and 15 have been arrested on suspicion of assault”.
Since then, a third arrest has been made with further appeals for CCTV or dashcam footage of the area between 5.45pm and 6.15pm yesterday evening.
The 14-year-old victim remains in a stable condition in University Hospital of Wales where he is being treated for his injuries.
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