“We’re trying our hardest and putting in money to drive business but people do not want to come in. We are fighting a bit of a losing battle.”
Those are the words of Jade Devall, co-owner of the Post House in Victoria Street, who says she has seen footfall get worse and worse as crime on the street increases.
And latest figures appear to back up her concerns.
More offences are committed there than any other street in the city, according to police.uk data, with 292 crimes reported in or around Victoria Street between September 2017 and August 2018. Some 105 of those crimes related to anti-social behaviour.
It was also the worst street for violent or sexual crime with 56 such offences.
London Road was the second most affected street overall, with a total of 262 crimes recorded, 93 of which were anti-social behaviour. This is understandable, given it is three miles long.
That was followed by Whiston Street, off Normanton Road (209 crimes overall); Brick Street (158 crimes), off Ashbourne Road, and Cheapside (133 crimes) in the city centre which recently gained national notoriety as the scene of a violent altercation between a large group of girls.
Other dangerous spots in Derby include Degge Street (132 crimes), off Green Lane; Curzon Street (with 130 total crimes), and Corporation Street (122), home of Derby City Council.
St James’ Street, in the city centre, and Mount Street, off Burton Road, also made the top ten, with 118 and 117 crimes recorded respectively.
Police say the statistics relate to "approximations" of where incidents have occurred but people living and working on two of these streets have told of their concerns.
A total of five businesses in Victoria Street have called for more police on the beat and more public toilets.
They are concerned that shoppers are afraid to leave Intu to visit them because they have to "run the gauntlet of drunks, drug users and aggressive beggars".
Shop and restaurant owners say potential customers are hassled so much that they refuse to walk through the city centre to reach the older part of town.
The outlets say pedestrians feel unsafe passing by people "high on drugs" or being approached for spare change.
Shane Wood, owner of Mexican street food takeaway El Contador, said: “Customers sometimes don’t want to walk down here because we have people begging.”
Glyn Brimble, goldsmith at Cresta Gems in Victoria Street, said: “You see people on drugs and a lot of customers ring up and ask for updates instead of coming into the shop. They daren’t come down here now and we never see any police here to deal with it.”
But Derby City Council says it is doing a “huge amount of work” in investing into the Becketwell area, and Derbyshire police say that, as part of Operation Halifax, they have made 44 arrests and continue to target criminals in the city centre.
Ms Devall, co-owner of the Post House in Victoria Street, said: “People don’t like walking here from the Intu centre. They get harassed all the time, there’s anti-social behaviour and people on drugs. That’s what they’re telling me."
“I know other businesses that are suffering with footfall in Sadler Gate too. Some I have spoken to are thinking about shutting or moving.”
What Derbyshire police has said about problems in Victoria Street
Derby City SNT Sergeant, Jamie Millard said: "As a force we work hard to ensure Derby is a safe place for the residents and visitors to our city.
"Along with partners including Derby City Council, Pub Watch, the Business Improvement Districts, Street Pastors and taxi marshal service, the city has been awarded the coveted Purple Flag status for the fifth year in a row.
"Launched in 2012, the Purple Flag status is awarded independently to towns and cities that show excellence in the management of their night time economy.
"As a force we are very pleased that this hard work has been recognised and we continue to look at ways we can improve the city centre experience.
"We take a proactive approach to policing the night time economy by targeting key areas, focusing on enforcement and achieving compliance with the help of dedicated police resources and the use of powers of dispersal, closure and detention.
"The swift responses to incidents are based on high levels of cooperation between the police, Pubwatch, door staff, taxi marshals, Street Pastors, ambulance service, CCTV operatives and the licensed premises.
"We also run operations targeting criminals in the city centre with Operation Halifax, which concentrated on the disrupting the supply of Synthetic Cannabinoids (commonly known as Mamba).
"Forty four people were arrested during the operation, with 32 charged to appear at court. With all that said, I am disappointed to hear that businesses in the area have expressed these views.
"Along with our many partners we also work with businesses to make Derby a welcoming place to visit.
"We are always looking to improve the service that we deliver and would welcome a conversation with any businesses, visitors or residents about how we can make the city centre safer."
'Excessive' tax bills
Ms Devall said her current tax bill was around £18,000 per year, which she thinks is a bit excessive and called on the council to lower it.
She said: “All my bills are going up and up and up. A tax rate of £12,000 would be more comfortable.
“The council should take into account what the business is. If you’re a tiny shop and you need that break you should get it.
"There’s money that needs to be spent in this area by the council. If it was a lovely area then people would come here.”
Mr Wood said: “I see a lot of homeless people and they go around in groups. I’ve had them come and sleep here outside my door at times. It’s quite intimidating.
“The homeless people need to be moved and the police do try their best to move them on but more needs to be done.”
Mr Brimble continued: “Something I think is very important is the fact that there are no public toilets around here anymore for people to go to.
“Some people don’t want to come this far because when they ask where the toilets are, they have to go all the way back up to the Intu centre.”
Six public toilets have been closed in Derby since 2010, including the well-known toilets on The Spot.
What Derby City Council has said about Victoria Street
A spokesperson for Derby City Council said: “We are doing a huge amount of work and investing a great deal in transforming the Becketwell area.
“We also work very hard in partnership with Police, Business Improvement Districts and Pubwatch and have a nationally recognised ‘Night time economy’ as well as achieving Purple Flag status for the past 5 years.”
In response to Mr Brimble’s concerns about public toilets, the council said: “A decision was taken to close the public conveniences across Derby due to the need to reduce spend and because public conveniences in general are increasingly becoming unsafe places for the majority of the public to use.
“The public conveniences were prone to anti-social behaviour such as vandalism and drug taking, the later resulted in large amounts of hypodermic needles being discarded inside the toilets resulting in a risk to the public and our staff cleaning them.”
What other businesses are saying
Gurnam Singh, manager of the Premier store in Victoria Street, said: “Compared to last year, the situation has slightly improved but it still needs work. We need more police presence in this area, it would make a big difference.”
However, not all businesses experienced the same problems.
Elements Tea & Coffee House co-owner Stephanie Marris said: “I wouldn’t say that there’s a large amount of crime, or more than any other street, but we’ve only been here for a week.
“St Peter’s Street has changed a lot recently and the police are really tackling it but it takes time to sort it.”
Whiston Street suffers from whole range of crimes
Meanwhile, residents in Whiston Street, Normanton, say the area is plagued with burglaries, car thefts and public urination, and have branded the situation a "nightmare".
One resident of Whiston Street, who did not want to be named, said: "Drugs is the biggest problem. You see people sleeping in the gullies and alleys and it is horrible, especially for young children and families as they make their way to school."
Sharon, 52, of Holmes Street, which has a junction with Whiston Street, said: "I have lived here since 2003 and, at times, it has been a nightmare.
"I have seen burglaries happen, I have seen car thefts and you always get druggies around the streets.
Sharon, who did not want to give her second name, added: "The problem isn't with the people who live here, people come here to carry out their crimes. I don't know why - maybe it is because it is so quiet.
"Sometimes I feel vulnerable as there is always someone walking or standing around that looks a bit shifty or is trying to intimidate you.
"My boyfriend and I are looking at moving house. Things have been getting that bad."
As well as the problems with crime, people also complained about fly-tipping and mess being left behind around the area.
Sukwinder Singh, who owns shop Jazz Collection, has lived in Normanton for 17 years.
He said: "Things are just getting worse around here. People just dump their waste and I have even seen others urinating in the street, it is just disgusting.
"I walk my dog quite a lot down Whiston Street and there is always something. It would be great to see more police around here, but it is down to people's actions more than anything.
"People need to change the way they behave as this is the only way you can cut down on the problems."
What police said about problems in Whiston Street
Inspector Becky Webster, the officer in charge of policing Normanton, said: “Data released to Police.uk can only give an approximation of where incidents have occurred. Therefore labelling a particular street as worst for crime is misleading and inaccurate.
“However, we do understand that some areas, due to their location and physical makeup, can be more attractive to criminals. To counter this we have particular policing strategies to deal with these areas.
“A mix of high-visibility patrols and covert policing are used to disrupt and detect crime – as well as other techniques to combat particular types of criminality. We also work closely with other agencies, such as Derby City Council and drug rehabilitation services, to provide a multi-agency approach to provide a longer term solution to issues in the area.
“For those living in Whiston Street, as with any street across the city or county, I would say that we rely on you to tell us about these issues. The policing of Derbyshire is grounded in the communities that we live and serve within and we need to hear about the issues you are having to be able to tackle them.
“We would always urge people to contact us using the 101 non-emergency number or by direct messages using the force’s Facebook or Twitter.
“Some people prefer a face-to-face chat and over the coming months there are a number of events taking place in and around Normanton where officers will be on hand to chat."
Police.uk states that the street-level crime locations “are only an approximation of where the actual crimes occurred, they are not the exact locations”.
That means the actual figures for each street could differ slightly.
Figures can also be inflated for locations near police stations or transport hubs.