On Tuesday 27 March, Thanet District Council successfully obtained a Premises Closure Order on a property in Prince Andrew Road, Broadstairs to address persistent anti-social behaviour which was blighting the local community. The closure is one of the first of its kind to have been obtained by a Local Authority in Kent and was secured specifically to help safeguard a vulnerable resident.
The Council, with support from Orbit and Kent Police, made an application to Thanet Magistrate’s Court for a partial closure of the premises so that only the current tenant and the owner of the property would be permitted to access the address.
The order was granted and as a result effectively closes the property for three months and excludes any other person from being there. It also makes it a criminal offence for anyone else to re-enter the property.
Residents living nearby reported that they were ‘at the end of their tether’ and ‘too scared to sleep’. Kent Police attended the area repeatedly in response to reports of fighting in the street, shouting and swearing throughout the night.
Penny Button, Head of Safer Neighbourhoods, Thanet District Council commented: “Closing a premise is not a decision that is taken lightly but was necessary action given our assistance and support had been continually refused, and the behaviour was putting the well-being of others at risk, as well as impacting the wider community.
“This was a true team effort and could not have happened without the help of Orbit and Kent Police. We would like to thank everyone who came forward to enable this important safeguarding action to take place.”
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.
Andrew Meyer, Head of Tenancy Services at Orbit said: “We are delighted with this outcome as there is absolutely no excuse for people to behave in this way and in doing so, impact adversely on the law abiding majority.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour occurring in or around our properties and as in this case, we will work closely with our partners tackle it.”
Kent Police Inspector Rhiannan Pepper, from the Thanet Community Safety Unit, said: “We will continue to take action against properties when they are identified as being linked to reports of anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
“We have a zero-tolerance approach to drug-related crime and aim to disrupt any criminals intent on selling drugs here in Thanet.
“Drug dealers are ruthless and will take advantage of those who are considered vulnerable, by using their homes as bases to operate their illegal trade from. By working with Thanet District Council and other partner agencies, measures can be put in place to ensure those at risk from cuckooing are safeguarded.
“We ask the public to look out for any signs of a cuckooed property near to where they live – such as an increase in anti-social behaviour or an increase in visitors at unusual times of the day. Report anything suspicious to us on 101 (or 999 if a crime is taking place), as this information could be invaluable, not only for targeting offenders, but also when applying for closure orders.”
As one of the UK’s largest developing housing associations, Orbit has 50 years’ experience providing more than 40,000 quality, affordable homes and a range of advice and support services to over 100,000 people across the midlands, east and south east, including areas of London.
Our ethical approach to business means that we reinvest our profits into our mission of building communities, ensuring all generations can live in a home they can afford. This profit for a purpose culture enables us to build around 1,500 homes a year, from market sale and shared ownership to affordable rent and independent living with care options for people aged 55-plus.
Building homes is just the start of our offer to customers. We also work closely with partners to provide a network of support services to give people choice and opportunities through employment and training, health and wellbeing, digital inclusion and financial inclusion.
Employing 1,200 staff, we have a wealth of in-house resources, skills, and experience. We harness this to provide sector-leading homes and services, but also to benefit other businesses. Through Service Matters, our professional services team, we deliver audit, insurance, procurement and other services to other public and private sector partners.