By the 1980s, Hateley Heath had become a crime-fuelled "sink" housing estate with a very poor reputation.
In January 1992, an Express & Star report on the estate revealed some shocking findings.It was estimated that six out of ten children living in Hateley Heath were involved in crime. Joyriding, burglaries and vandalism were just some of the many problems that were supposedly plaguing the area. Several shopkeepers had closed their stores due to theft and vandalism. In 1991 alone, West Midlands Police in Sandwell received no less than 1,006 complaints about crime on the estate - an average of once in just over eight hours. Car thefts and break-ins were the most common crime in the area, followed closely behind by burglaries and vandalism. During the year, 48 people on the estate were arrested on suspicion of criminal offences, though it is unknown how many of these arrests resulted in a conviction. What is known is that all but three of the people arrested were aged under 25. Unemployment and social deprivation were blamed for the decline of Hateley Heath, with almost 15% of employable residents being out of work. However, the nearby towns of Smethwick and Tipton had an even higher unemployment rate at this time.