Hero ... Robin Hood hails from crime-ridden Nottingham

Nottingham, Britain's 7th largest city, may be pretty but it's the country crime hotspot. The city takes its name (seriously) from an Anglo-Saxon chieftain named Snot - "Snotingaham", its original name, means "The Homestead of Snot's people" in Anglo-Saxon.

Gunning for Nottingham

Chief Features Writer
The Sun

IT is the Midlands city famed for Robin Hood, DH Lawrence, Raleigh bikes and the man who started the Salvation Army.

Nottingham — a thriving settlement since Saxon times — also produced Brian Clough’s all-conquering football team who became champions of England and Europe in the 1970s.

But this week the city gained notoriety for topping a different league table — as the place with the worst burglary rate in Britain.

The statistic came from a survey by insurance firm Endsleigh and revealed that Nottingham had house burglary levels which were 63 per cent above the national average.

The bombshell comes two years after a report labelled the city the crime capital of England and Wales.

The research, by the think-tank Reform, showed locals are four times more likely to be victims of burglars, muggers and rapists than in the country’s safest towns.

It came as Nottingham — once known as the Queen of the Midlands — was already trying to rid itself of its Gun City image following a series of high-profile murders.

In 2002 there were 21 killings — many gang-related — and murders and gun crime were so out of control that the city was nicknamed “Shottingham”.

But then crime figures dropped as the Nottingham Stands Together campaign organised pride marches and a county-wide gun amnesty.

However, in February a Government review into the effects of late-night pub and club opening found that violent crime rose by three per cent across the city.

Nottingham City Council disputes the Reform and Endsleigh statistics, saying they didn’t take into account the city’s richer surrounding suburbs.

But what is not in doubt is the misery caused to Nottingham’s ordinary folk by crime.

Standing beneath a battery of CCTV cameras in his newsagents and off-licence in the suburb of Lenton, Jayswinder Singh blames drugs for his home’s woes.

Pointing down Ilkeston Road he reels off a list of robberies, murders and muggings which would fill an edition of the BBC’s Crimewatch.

Dad-of-three Jayswinder, 47, says: “I’ve had two break-ins, the Co-op and the post office have been done, a policewoman was shot down the road and there have been eight or nine murders, all in the eight years I’ve run the shop.

“It’s not safe to walk around here at night. The youngsters are all out of their heads on booze and drugs.

“There are kids as young as seven wandering around in the evenings being abusive. Why do their parents let them?

“Police do patrol the area on foot but I’m afraid to let my own children walk around here.”

Lenton, a short drive from the city centre, was once a well-to-do suburb with its smart Edwardian and Victorian properties fronted by neatly trimmed lawns.

The area has gradually given way to student bedsits, and with the students have come burglars who regard the enticing influx of laptops, iPods and mobile phones as easy pickings.

A series of sickeningly violent attacks has since blighted the leafy suburb. In February 2006 rookie policewoman Rachael Bown survived being shot by Yardie gangster Trevon Thomas during a burglary call-out in Lenton.

Illegal immigrant Thomas, 24, of nearby Bilborough, was later jailed for 30 years after being found guilty of her attempted murder.

In December last year a 19-year-old was stabbed in the street in Radford.

He survived, but in January another victim, David Stimpson, 39, died from head injuries after being found lying in a pool of blood in Stansfield Street, Radford.

An 18-year-old youth was later charged with murder.

Just two weeks later, in nearby Hyson Green, Leszek Milon, 39, was found dead at his flat.

Three men have been charged with his murder. In February a potentially lethal stun gun disguised as a mobile phone was seized in the Hyson Green area.

Two men in their early 20s have been charged in connection with the find.

A few hundreds yards from Mr Singh’s shop is a new estate.

A pair of trainers, tied together and thrown over a telephone wire, is buffeted in the cold wind at the entrance to the neat rows of detached houses.

Locals say the shoes are a well-known signal to drug users that a dealer is operating nearby.

Steal town ... Nottingham, home of Robin Hood, is beauiful - but crime-ridden

The Sun saw two police foot patrols during the afternoon we visited the estate but locals want more cops.

Lenton resident Mary Keane, 46, a hospital cleaner, was mugged in daylight two years ago.

She says: “A man grabbed my bag and wrenched it so hard I was dragged off my feet. He got away with 60 and my phone. I was so terrifed afterwards that I had to carry a panic alarm.

“I think Nottingham needs more police on the streets.”

Ex-miner William Jones, 67, says: “We need more police, better street lighting and more things for kids to do. Nottingham has got a bad reputation now for crime, which is a shame as it has so much to offer.”

Nearby another pensioner in her seventies is too afraid to give her name.

She says: “You used to be able to leave your door open around here when I was young but now I’m too scared to walk around on my own.”

But the truth is that in Nottingham — the city that produced Salvation Army founder William Booth and poet Lord Byron — crime is falling.

Officials say it’s down 25 per cent in three years, and many believe the area’s poor reputation is unfounded.

Last year, after gangster Colin Gunn was jailed for life for masterminding a double killing and running a drugs empire, Nottingham City Council leader Jon Collins said: “Nottingham never was the gun crime capital of the UK and never deserved the reputation it gained a number of years ago.

“We had the misfortune to have a small number of high-profile cases involving guns that attracted national attention, but the problem was never worse in Nottingham than other big cities like London and Manchester.”

Ex judge and Tory councillor Dick Benson said: “The problem is that all the surveys don’t take into account the rich suburbs which are not part of the city of Nottingham but are part of the Nottingham urban area.

“We have problems in Nottingham but nowhere near as bad as is portrayed. It’s a good place to live.”

City's made it - from Robing Hood to cycles to cigarettes

THE people of Nottingham might get a little sniffy at the origins of their city’s name – as it comes from a man called Snot.

It is believed the city was once Snotingaham, from the Saxon chieftain Snot, and meaning “The homestead of Snot’s people”.

In 867 it was captured by Vikings and was the site of a castle after the Norman conquest.

During the industrial revolution Nottingham became a textile boomtown and the population soared.

Then in the 20th Century the city was buoyed by Jesse Boot creating the largest chain of chemist shops in the country.

By the 1930s cigarette firm John Player and bike makers Raleigh were two of the city’s biggest employers.

Today Nottingham is changing from manufacturing to high-tech and service industries.