Thanet District Council and Kent Police have successfully obtained a Premises Closure Order* on a problem property in Margate that had become known for significant anti-social behaviour.
The Premises Closure Order prevents anyone, including the tenant, from entering the property in the future. The property has also been physically secured by changing and replacing door and window locks.
This Order follows an earlier Premises Closure Order, with exemptions, which was granted on Thursday 18 May, giving police powers of arrest if anyone other than the tenant was present at the property.
The action has been supported by Kent Police and Riverside Housing Association. It comes as a number of agencies continue to work together as part of the Thanet Community Safety Partnership (TCSP). The TCSP proactively targets addresses that are involved in criminality, drug supply and where the address has been “cuckooed”.
The property on Addington Street, Margate had been identified as an issue after there had been an increase in reports of nuisance and disorder coming from the property for several weeks. There had also been an increase in the number of visitors to the property. A number of warnings were issued but were ignored, including the Premises Closure Order preventing anyone other than the tenant permission to access the address for three months.
This measure was taken in response to regular and persistent anti-social behaviour taking place at the address by people believed to be ‘cuckooing’ the property. Cuckooing is a term used to define behaviour similar to that of the bird, whereby someone takes over another person’s property without their consent, often using it as a base for drug dealing.
Cllr Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety at Thanet District Council commented:
“Thanet District Council does not tolerate unacceptable behaviour which exploits vulnerable people, and makes others nearby feel unsafe. We take this type of criminal activity extremely seriously, and will not allow one property to disrupt others. We will always work with our partners to take necessary action and continue to monitor how successful this action has been to ensure the best outcome for the rest of the community in the long term.”
Michael Anderson, Riverside’s Regional Services Manager for Thanet said:
“Riverside is committed to tackling the blight of anti-social behaviour and protecting the communities we serve. We would like to express our thanks to Thanet’s Community Safety Partners for all their work in achieving this successful outcome.
“This demonstrates that Riverside has a zero tolerance to anti-social behaviour, and we will continue to work with the police and our partners in Thanet to keep our communities safe”
Inspector Lara Connor from Thanet Community Safety Unit said:
‘The conditions of the Premises Closure Order with exemptions granted in May allowed only the tenant to remain in his flat and prevent anyone else from being there to reduce criminal activity. But within a fortnight our officers received calls of concern from residents regarding loud music, anti-social behaviour and drug-related activity. Visits to the property by police led to the arrests of unauthorised people who were found there on three separate occasions over three months.
‘In total five people were arrested for breaching the order, and three of those were also arrested for drugs offences as well. The occupant was also served with a Community Protection Notice warning him over his continued anti-social behaviour.
‘Good security measures were in place at the flat so any visitors should have been refused entry to the property. Unfortunately the occupant showed a lack of cooperation with the closure order, and little consideration for surrounding residents, so we are pleased that the district judge at Margate Magistrates’ Court granted a full closure order on Thursday 23 August.
‘We know how detrimental persistent anti-social behaviour can be for a community and we will take action against those who are breaking the law and in this case shown to repeatedly flout the terms of a court order.’
Members of the public should look out for signs of a cuckooed property near to where they live – this could be an increase in anti-social behaviour or visitors at unusual times of the day. Anything suspicious should be reported to the police on 101 (or 999 if a crime is taking place). This information can be invaluable for officers targeting offenders, as well as applying for closure orders.
*The Court Order, granted by Margate Magistrates Court, was for a full closure of the property from 23 August to 22nd November 2018.