The calm in the town of Heide in Dietmarsh seems to be over for a few weeks now. One of the most popular places in the city center, the Südermarkt has become a meeting place for violent young people aged 14-22. Between St. Jürgen’s Church, the Sparkasse Branch and the Hedermarkt Pass, teens and young males often meet, especially in the early evening.
Numerous police operations in Södermarkt
Sometimes there are ten, sometimes 20 young men and sometimes much more young men. The police were often called in the evening because bystanders were insulted and threatened, young men were robbed or two groups got into a fight. That’s says Thomas Schulz, deputy chief of the Hyde Police Department.
“We’ve had 40 reports of bodily harm in the past few weeks, as well as property damage and other crimes. This is unusual for Hyde,” the officer says. One could have thought of how the police would continue to deal with it and also discuss it with the office in Itzihue.
Phase one: “Dangerous place”
The Itzihui Police Department initially classified Hyde city center, including Södermarkt, as a “dangerous place”. Initially for 30 days. “This means that we can verify young people without any reason, identify their personal data and search with them as well,” says Thomas Schultz. It showed that we were on the right track. But this is clearly not enough. That is why we applied for an extension and it has now been decided.”
Concretely, this means that the classification as a “dangerous place” has been extended by 90 days. For larger operations, Hyde Police officers get support from other areas. “We want to prevent crime there through our presence and control activities,” Schulz explains. But you can’t be there 24/7.
The police have their limits
Hyde Police Station officers have been on regular patrols for weeks in Södermarkt as well as in a nearby market lane. But police action has its limitations, as Thomas Schultz says: “We can only take action temporarily, because we are now acting on the basis of incidents.”
Instead, one must now ask oneself why the Südermarkt developed in this way and why children and young adults are so obvious. It’s also a matter of looking at options, says Schulz.
Sodermarkt is the talk of the town
The events in Södermarkt are the main topic of talks in the town of Dittmarschen. At the latest after a good week – Friday evening around 9 pm – several people clashed in the market lane.
Meanwhile, citizens are considering what the city can do to calm the situation. “We need surveillance cameras there,” one of the men suggests. And then everything can be photographed, even if some people committed crimes there. This can also be a deterrent. Others are calling for more police. “The police should be here more often, patrolling more often,” says Haider, who has just come out of the market aisle.
Another Haider holds a bag of the baker in his hand. He finds the situation frightening and wants street workers.
Guessing as to the causes
Meanwhile, local police and politicians are baffled as to why the Südermarkt has suddenly become a popular meeting place for young people. There seem to be many possible causes. “The Südermarkt is in the middle of the city center, there are benches and, above all, free WiFi, which attracts people,” said Thomas Schulz of the police. In addition, there is near the Marktpassage, where you can escape when it rains, and a supermarket open until 10 pm.
Another citizen suspected of being linked to the Corona epidemic. Months later – after restrictions that were difficult and unfamiliar to them – the young men are finally allowed out again. Add to that the summer temperatures and the little ones wanted to take advantage of that.
The mayor is upset
Heide’s mayor, Oliver Schmidt-Goetzat (SPD), is stunned by the developments in Södermarkt: “I am very concerned and hope that the clashes in Södermarkt will not develop into a spiral of violence.” He regularly informs Hyde Police of the current situation.
The town hall is located a few meters from the Südermarkt. Many city employees pass through the Südermarkt on their way to work or after work. Some have already noticed concrete incidents there. The Mayor of Hyde has now adopted the proposal of the Hyde Police Chief, which called for joint action by all authorities. This means the Itzihui Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Police, Hyde City, and the Youth Welfare Office. Now there will be a round table on the topic of the Südermarkt next week.
Positive signal from Stadtmarketing Heide
Accidents at Södermarkt are also a problem for the employees of Heider Stadtmarketing. Because her office and Tourist Info, which opened two years ago, are located directly in the Südermarkt.
Benjamin Hellman of City Marketing says you didn’t get much of what was happening at Tourist Info that evening. “But the next morning we have the legacy of the evening and the night before we walked in. Cans, bottles, litter of all kinds and of course that bothers us.”
Along with Sandra Heave, Hyde’s downtown manager, Hillman came up with something. Hellman says the city’s marketing has planned an outdoor series for the summer anyway. “Now we want to have small concerts there, comedy, poetry criticism. A small series of events to revitalize our city center.” This must be done deliberately despite the status quo in order to occupy the place positively and not give up.
If all goes well, a new series of outdoor events will begin at the Heider Südermarkt on June 2.