'Masked gangs target our home but it feels like there's nothing we can do'

A masked gang outside the family's Netherley home
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

A family is living in fear as gangs of teenagers wearing balaclavas attack their home and racially abuse them in the street.

Fatmata and Umair Habib settled in Netherley around eight years ago after moving to Liverpool from London. The pair told the ECHO that they had three of their five children in Liverpool, love their jobs at Aintree University Hospital and for a number of years enjoyed a better quality of life.

But for the past four years the family's home has been terrorised by gangs of masked youths who loiter threateningly outside, throw rubbish over their driveway and target windows with rocks and eggs. Mrs Habib, 35, told the ECHO that their 13-year-old son, who has autism and is asthmatic, has also been repeatedly attacked on his way home from school.

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The mum added the family's issues have continually been raised with both Merseyside Police and Riverside housing association. A spokesperson for Merseyside Police told the ECHO multi-agency meetings are ongoing with the family, while Riverside added its dedicated housing team would be conducting a review of the family's situation. However, Mrs Habib claimed both are not doing enough to ensure the family are safe in their own home.

The mum-of-five said: "The abuse has been ongoing for over four years. When we moved here everything was okay, we have lovely neighbours. We are the type of people who mind our own business. We both work full time at Aintree Hospital. But the children started pushing over our bins and throwing rubbish over the front drive.

"They throw rocks or eggs at our windows and doors every single day. We hear the boom when we are inside. We brought a camera to cover the front of the house. We have called the police who told us they need evidence, but we have shown them the footage but nothing is done. For them it's like watching a movie, but this is our reality."

The mum claimed she has notified Merseyside Police and Riverside of at least one address of a teenager suspected of being involved in the incidents. She claimed Riverside said letters would be sent to the house issuing a tenancy warning letter. The ECHO understands this was carried out, but no further evidence has connected this child or anyone from another Riverside household to incidents since.

The ECHO has seen a number of pieces of footage from the camera at the front of the house which shows the hooded teenagers standing outside the property and throwing objects at it. These pieces of footage cover a period of time that dates back to 2021.

In the Easter holidays, a group of masked teenagers repeatedly kicked on the family's front door while Mrs Habib was at home with the children alone because her husband was at work. She claimed her children shouted "stop, you are scaring us", before the police arrived around three hours later.

Mrs Habib, who is of African descent while her husband is from Pakistan, claimed the family have been repeatedly racially abused in the street. She added her oldest son has also been attacked when walking home from after-school club. She claimed he has been "spat on and choked until he couldn't breathe".

Merseyside Police confirmed they received a report in January this year regarding the assault. Mrs Habib said her son took a photo of his attackers but nothing has been done. The family have recently contacted the Anthony Walker Foundation and local MP Maria Eagle's office for help.

Mrs Habib added she has taken three months off sick due to the stress of the situation. She told the ECHO: "I can't think, I can't sleep. I'm so scared thinking what will happen. My family in London are so scared. I have a job that I love, my husband loves his job, my kids love Liverpool."

A spokesperson for Riverside told the ECHO: "We are truly sorry to hear of the Habib family’s distress following reports of harassment in their community. At Riverside, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory language or actions that could cause a hostile environment, and do not tolerate behaviour that prevents our customers from feeling secure in their neighbourhood.

"We want to reassure the family that we are continuing to take their concerns seriously and are doing everything we can to support them, including working closely with the local police overseeing their case and liaising with other agencies involved. Our dedicated housing team have also been conducting a review of the family’s situation, and we will be in touch to arrange a home visit to discuss further ways we can assist them.

"We understand that unfortunately the police are yet to have identified those involved in the incidents reported by the Habib family, but we will continue to support their investigations where possible and act accordingly on their findings. Our team are available for anyone experiencing concerns relating to anti-social behaviour, but we ask that you call 999 in the event of an emergency or to report incidents of hate crime."

Merseyside Police Detective Inspector Jemma Berry said: "We have studied CCTV footage, spoken to witnesses and carried out extensive enquiries to identify the offenders. We continue to work with the family and made a referral to the Anthony Walker Foundation to provide them with support.

"Our specialist hate crime coordinator is also in regular contact with the family, and multi-agency meetings are regularly held to discuss further support for the family, and this work is ongoing. In Merseyside, we believe that everyone should be able to live their lives without fear of being subjected to verbal or physical abuse.

"We are committed to tackling hate in our communities and would strongly encourage all victims to come forward and report such incidents. Where we identify a crime, we take firm action and offer the support of partner agencies to ensure the person reporting gets the assistance they need to feel safe."

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