Homes closed in Dale Street & Wensley House to stop drug-related anti-social behaviour

To tackle anti-social behaviour blighting the lives of neighbours, the courts have allowed the council has to close two council homes.

This action has been part of recent activity to curb drug trafficking from large cities to smaller towns, known as County Lines. This can involve criminal activity around a home which council and police officers have worked together to stop.

On 9 October, York Magistrates’ court issued a Premises Closure Order to the council for a home in Dale Street, off Nunnery Lane. This follows a number of criminal incidents, some of which involved drugs and violence. The police supported the council to secure the order which prohibits anyone except the tenant from entering or remaining the property. The tenant has since ended the tenancy and the flat will be re-let as soon as possible.

On Tuesday 5 November, the council secured the full closure of a flat at Wensley House, Holgate. This follows drug-related incidents involving offensive weapons which were attended by North Yorkshire Police, and who have backed the council’s action to close this home. The order will be in force for three months from the date of issue.

Premises Closure Orders are often used to break a cycle of anti-social and sometimes illegal and violent behaviour at the property. This may be caused or aggravated by visitors and can sometimes be out of the control of the tenant or encouraged by them.

It is a criminal offence to enter or remain in a property in breach of the terms of the closure order. Doing so can lead to penalties of up to a year’s imprisonment, fines or both.

Superintendent Lindsey Butterfield, Neighbourhood Policing Commander for York and Selby, added: “Tackling County Lines and the violence and antisocial behaviour associated with it is a major priority for North Yorkshire Police. It involves the exploitation of the young and the vulnerable and requires a response from not just the police, but many partner agencies too – we can’t do it alone.

“This action by City of York Council is a great example of true joint working and will help to disrupt the misery caused by out-of-town drug dealers in the neighbourhood.”

Cllr Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “Criminal behaviour is unacceptable and these orders are very effective ways of ensuring that it stops.

“Premises closure orders, along with routine policing, can help breaking the cycle of criminality and repeat offending, with which a very small minority of people can blight the lives of neighbours and the immediate community. The closure comes at a cost of a much-needed council home which we hope to re-let as soon as possible.

“The courage of the local community in supporting us to stand up to this anti-social and criminal behaviour should not be underestimated.”

Drugs and housing – mixed messages

Two Councillors were using the media to tell the York Council what it should be doing last week. One was right, the other wrong.

Drugs

One commentator hit the nail of the head. She said that the scale of drug abuse problems in the city should be more generally understood.

She was right to do so.  drug-misuse_blackpool

While local police officers often conduct high profile drugs raids, the level of reports – for what some regard as a victim less crime – almost certainly disguises the real level of abuse.

Crime stats reveal that only 202 drug related crime reports were made in the City during the year ending in July. This was 2.8% of the total crimes reported.

This compares to 3510 reports of “anti social behaviour” during the same period.

Anecdotal evidence paints a different picture.

York’s public toilets are frequently misused by drug users who leave their paraphernalia lying around. This poses a threat to other users and to cleaning staff.

So more candour about drug related issues is needed.

Newbury Avenue

A snide contribution from a Heworth Ward Councillor claimed that the development of flats on the Newbury Avenue garage site should go ahead immediately.

Cars parked on grassed amenity area in Windsor Garth

Cars parked on grassed amenity area in Windsor Garth

She clearly had little knowledge of the scale of problems already evident in the area mainly as a result of the late running development of the Our Lady’s school site.

Acute parking problems and traffic issues have been exacerbated by the development while road surfaces – and in particular the speed tables – have been badly damaged.

Some residents are now resorting to parking on grassed amenity areas (see photo right) while the Council still refuses to release much needed estate improvement funding  to the area “because to doesn’t have a residents association”.

The Council is right to pause any additional building work in the area at least until it sorts out existing issues with public services.

Drug possession, public order and theft offences up in York

Overall crime numbers stable in year to the end of September 2014.

The latest crime figures produced by ONS show an increase in some types of crime in York. (See table below)

Crime numbers in York

Crime numbers in York

The biggest concerns will probably be over public order  and “theft from a person” offences both of which have risen for the fifth consecutive quarter.

Drug related crime is also on the increase as are (reported) sexual offences and shoplifting.

The violence figures remain high.

The Police are right to point out that North Yorkshire is a safe place to live and enjoys the second lowest crime rate in the country.

But there is work to do in York and the figures are likely to reopen the debate about whether the County’s Deputy Chief Constable should be relocated and headquartered in the City.

The York Council may also need to review its policies.

It has a role to play in reducing crime in general and public order problems in particular.

A statement from North Yorkshire Police is reproduced below
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