Thanet council has won a premises closure order for a property in Broadstairs where the tenant is believed to have been the target of a ‘cuckooing’ couple.
Cuckooing is when a person takes over another person’s property without their consent, often to use as a base for drug dealing.
The partial closure at the house in Prince Andrew Road, obtained on March 27, allows the tenant and owner access to the address but excludes any other person from being there. The order closes the property off to anyone else for three months and makes it a criminal offence for anyone to re-enter the address.
The measure, in partnership with Orbit Housing and Kent Police, was taken due to regular and persistent anti-social behaviour using the address.
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.
Residents living in the area reported that they were ‘at the end of their tether’ and ‘too scared to sleep’ following repeated calls and attendances by Kent Police due to reports of fighting in the street, shouting and swearing all through the night.
Penny Button, Head of Safer Neighbourhoods, Thanet District Council said: “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.”
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.”
Labour ward councillor Jenny Matterface said: “I am glad action has been taken swiftly and has been successful. The situation caused a great deal of concern among residents who will be glad to see the back of those who were responsible for this case of ‘cuckooing’.
“The almost daily visits from the police worried those living in the road and the sight of drunken behaviour on a regular basis was most unwelcome.”