Pioneering police have unleashed a new weapon in the fight against crime – to help shut out drug users making the lives of residents a misery on a South Tyneside street.
Forward-thinking officers in South Tyneside have taken full advantage of new policing powers to close down a notorious drug den in Eglesfield Road, South Shields.
Flat 42 on the street – which has become a source of huge worry for neighbours – will be boarded up for the next two months after a court judge granted the Northumbria force’s first ever Closure Order for a domestic property.
The order was rubber-stamped by District Judge Roger Elsey in a bid to tackle growing problems with drug use and anti-social behaviour.
In January, previous tenant Joseph White was jailed for 44 months for dealing heroin from the property.
However, complaints over the property continued to flood in – sparking increased police patrols in the area and a series of search warrant swoops at the flat.
This is a great result for the teamInspector Paul Young
A number of people were arrested in connection with drug offences, handling stolen property, burglary and theft.
Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team gathered evidence of ongoing drug-taking activity and related crime and used new legislation – introduced last April in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – to apply for a Closure Order.
Anyone found on the premises during the two-month period could face arrest.
Superintendent Sav Patsalos said: “Ensuring our communities have the confidence to come forward and report issues that concern them is important to us and I’d like to thank the local community for their help and support during this process.
“I hope members of the public feel reassured that ourselves and partner agencies have listened to and responded to their concerns, and will continue to have the confidence that we will take action.”
South Shields Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Young said: “This is a great result for the team. Officers have worked tirelessly to ensure this order was imposed and that members of the public were protected from the anti-social and criminal behaviour associated with this flat.
“It also sends an important message that we will work with partners including landlords to ensure action is taken against criminal activity.
“Despite the success of this Closure Order, we will not become complacent and will continue to focus on the area. Action will be taken against anyone who is involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour.”
The order comes as Southern Area Command – covering South Tyneside and Sunderland – continues to run Operation Gryphon aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Members of the public concerned about crime or anti-social behaviour in their area should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101 ext 69191.