Residents have expressed their relief after Bath Magistrates ordered a flat in Lampards Buildings to be shut up for three months on hearing how the drug-related anti-social behaviour of the tenants and their visitors blighted the lives of other residents.
The Closure Order hearing, on Monday 13 February, heard how the tenant had ignored letters, phone calls and visits from landlord Curo seeking to address the problems.
Neighbourhood PC Gary Peters said in a statement to the court that due to the behaviour of the tenants of 10 Lampards Buildings, residents in the flats were exposed to open drug dealing and even drug taking in public view, with children prevented from using play areas due to drug litter, including used hypodermic needles.
In December 2016, police mounted a large scale operation and charged 39 people on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs in Bath. Fourteen offenders have already been convicted and jailed.
Anonymous residents' statements supporting the closure application said that people 'under the influence of drugs and alcohol' and who were 'very intimidating' would frequently ring other residents' bells or shout up to number 10 in order to gain access at unsociable hours.
They said they were left 'hugely affected', 'no longer feel safe', 'living on the edge' and 'frightened of leaving the property' and felt that 'the stress of all this has impacted on my health'. Resident's statements cite used hypodermic needles being found in 'all communal areas, the bin areas, the park and on the stairs to the flats' and described finding people using drugs on the stairwell 'on a regular basis'. They set up a closed Facebook group in order to support one another and share information.
As well as being supported by residents, the closure order application was backed by the landlord Curo.
Police notified Bath & North East Somerset Council's housing team of the application before the hearing, and the tenant has been given information about support services.
A resident who asked not to be named said: "We're all really pleased. It's a long time overdue but it's really good. It's made a huge difference already. Since the police operation it's been 95 per cent better. The police couldn't have done more, they've been amazing."
The police Neighbourhood Manager for Bath at the time, Temporary Inspector Adrian Fallows, said: "People living in and around these flats have endured enough sleepless nights as a result of drug and alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. This Closure Order is part of our ongoing commitment to tackle this sort of unacceptable behaviour. We have maintained a high profile presence in and around the flats since the drug operation. We're determined to work with the community to prevent these problems from recurring. This Closure Order is just one example of how officers are also working with our partners to ensure that convicted drug dealers are not able to have the same impact on the community on their release from prison. We're also asking the courts to grant Criminal Behaviour Orders aimed at disrupting future criminal behaviour on the part of the convicted dealers, including barring them from Bath."
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Residents have a right to live in communities free from drugs and drug-related anti-social behaviour and crime. I hope today’s Closure Order will make a real difference to those living in the area. Drugs have a damaging affect not only on those who abuse them but also the whole community. The local police have worked hard to tackle this unacceptable behaviour and I hope local residents can see the police taking action against those involved with drugs.
"In order to truly protect the most vulnerable from harm and ensure our communities are safe and feel safe we must work together to tackle drugs, prevent misuse and ensure treatment is available for those who seek help.”
Andrew Snee, Curo’s Head of Compliance and Support , said: “We worked very closely with Avon and Somerset police on the recent series of raids cracking down on illegal drug use in Bath. Our message is clear; we do not tolerate the use or dealing of drugs in our properties. Such activities, as well as being illegal, have an impact on other residents and we will take the strongest possible action against any tenant found to be involved.”
Officers will continue to work with local communities and other agencies to disrupt and deter drug dealing. It’s important for people to carry on telling police of their suspicions and concerns about drug crime. If you’re concerned about contacting officers directly, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They never ask your name or trace your call. You can even receive a reward and still remain anonymous.
Help and treatment are available for users who want to quit from Developing Health & Independence (DHI). Call them on 01225 329411 for free and confidential advice, or visit Beehive Yard, Walcot Street, Bath.
Posted on Tuesday 14th February 2017