Landlord to sell Margate flats ‘taken over by drugs gang’

Addington Street Photo Rachel Oakes

A landlord says he will sell his Margate flats due to his tenants being cuckooed – where someone takes over another person’s property without their consent – by a ‘Somalian drugs gang.’

Stuart Atkinson, who runs antiques business Fontaine with partner Kiel Shaw, says there have been four stabbings in less than a month and a ‘constant queue’ of drug customers at the Addington Street property owned by the pair.

Stuart, who traded in Thanet but has since relocated to Herefordshire, said: “I feel helpless, it seems like the drug dealers have taken over the area and no one cares. The residents are terrified to go out of their doors.

“There have been, we think, four stabbing in three weeks. One was a police officer, although that might not be related, but it was taken seriously. The police are aware that a drugs gang have cuckooed my flats and a tenant is now a hopeless junkie.

“Sometimes there is a queue for their drugs when they know there will be a delivery. The residents have had enough and the police won’t issue a section 8 anti-social behaviour eviction as the law says it has to be the person on the tenancy agreement. The police have lost control, residents are living in terror and it is not fair.”

Stuart has already been through a lengthy court process to evict one tenant due to their flat being used as a drugs den and says now another girl has been targeted.

He added: “There is a Somalian drugs gang operating out of the block, there are queues outside as people wait for their coke. A neighbour was stabbed in the street and two people were stabbed in the hallway. I have sympathy that police lack resources but they were there very quickly when one of their officers was attacked just up the road.”

Closure orders on the isle

Last year Thanet District Council and Kent Police obtained a Premises Closure Order on a separate property in Addington Street, which prevented anyone, including the tenant, from entering it. The property was physically secured by changing and replacing door and window locks. The move followed months of anti-social behaviour and drug dealing complaints relating to another ‘cuckooing’ incident and resulted in five arrests.

Kent Police urges residents to report all incidents to help build up the evidence needed to introduce preventative measures, such as eviction orders and community protection notices.

Inspector Jason Brown from Thanet Community Safety Unit said: “Kent Police does not tolerate drug dealing and the associated violent crime which comes with it, and we want to remind residents to report any suspicions they may have about drug dealing in Thanet either via our website or by calling 101 (or 999 if a crime is in progress).

‘Their information is crucial not only in identifying trouble spots but also builds up the evidence needed to introduce preventative measures, such as eviction orders and community protection notices.

‘When officers become aware of potential cuckooed addresses, visits to the property will be made to speak to the residents to ensure they are safe and well.

‘As well as carrying out enforcement work against offences reported at the property, officers will work with partner agencies to safeguard and educate cuckooed victims and signpost them to organisations who can assist them with aspects such as health and housing.’

Stuart says he has now had enough and is selling up. He said: “We haven’t got millions of (rental) properties, just that one. We thought we were doing the right thing by charging low rents because it is hard for people to find accommodation at a fair price.

“It’s backfired and we didn’t stand a chance.”

Stuart has served two section 21 eviction notices and says those tenants have to be out by the end of this month (December). He will then sell up.

 Getting help for the victims

A resident in the Addington Street area says drug dealers have taken over more than one property and she fears for the lives of those who have had their homes ‘cuckooed.’

The woman , who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said  one major concern was how to get help for the victims of these gangs. 

She said: “It would be good to know what resources or help there is to get these people out of this situation.

“It’s pretty awful, a neighbour suffered a knife wound just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is scary and you do not want to go out. You don’t know what to do about it or who to call to help those people who are victims even though their lives might be at risk.”

Targeting the vulnerable

Victims of ‘cuckooing’ are often drug users but can include older people, those suffering from mental or physical health problems, female sex workers, single mums and those living in poverty. Victims may suffer from other forms of addiction, such as alcoholism.

Once they gain control, gangs move in with the risk of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and violence. Children as well as adults are used as drug runners.

It’s common for gangs to have access to several addresses and move quickly between vulnerable people’s homes.. This helps gangs evade detection. Many cuckooing incidents are connected to county line gangs– criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”

Police, council and housing associations tackling the dealers

Addresses in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs have previously been shut down by the authorities due to crimes associated with cuckooing.

Thanet Community Safety Partnership (TCSP) targets addresses that are involved in criminality, drug supply and where the property has been “cuckooed”.

The partnership will work with police and housing associations to gather evidence and bring property closure cases to court.

Members of the public are asked to look out for signs of  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.

It can also be reported to Crimestoppers by calling  0800 555 111 or going to crimestoppers-uk.org

Ward councillor Rob Yates has also been involved with the issue. He can be contacted on [email protected]

15 Comments

  1. Careful Keefogs, you’ll upset the blue rinse brigade. How dare you suggest this anything to do with the tories. You’ll be accused of being a bigot, it’s a word they love to use when the truth is revealed. 5 more years of couldn’t give a toss conservatism will only make things worse, particularly in Thanet. Just wait till Boris screws up Brexit as he surely will but then blame probably me and you. Nightmare, ess6 truly Friday 13th.

    • What would you suggest for these criminals? Perhaps an ASBO ? Oh wait we all know how that turned out. What political party has been fighting the construction of new prison places ? Oh that’s right Labour, what political party has placed the human rights of criminals on a par with their victims ? What political party championing the human rights act has made it virtually impossible to deport foreign born criminals no matter how dangerous they are to society ? Oh that’s right the Labour Party. What political party wanted to end short term prison sentences ? Could it possibly be the Labour Party ? What political party actively protested against the governments stop and search policy and since then knife crime has sky rocketed ? Yes, you guesses it, the Labour Party. What current political party leader that has previously said that returning Jihadist fighters should not be prosecuted ? What political party leader has stated that jail should not be given for knife crime ? Labours very own Jeremy Corbyn, and what political party has said that they might legalise heroin and cocaine (Dianne Abbots own words ) yes you guessed it, the Labour Party.

      • What party cut the police numbers by 23500? Oh that’s right, the Tories. Maybe that could be why the country is so lawless now…….

      • It’s the tories that have been in power for 10 years. It’s on their watch, not anyone else’s, that these problems have arisen.
        To accuse a political party that hasn’t been in power for ten years is risible.

      • Wow, you really are so typical. 10 years of tory tripe, let’s pin it on Labour. Concerned, has it not concerned you that you are always in the minority with your one eyed right-wing rhetoric. Probably not, too busy supping your champagne or whatever substance that gives you such a buzz in completely denying anything that you the blue brigade have done since 2010. Let’s just see how things go when Boris screws up Brexit. Probably blame the Labour Party, it’s what the tories have done historically.

      • The Tories, not the Labour party, have been in power for 10 years. Plenty of time to get a few important social problems sorted out, to some extent at least. Yet many people commenting on this site complain that things are getting worse. It isn’t the Labour party that’s created the current situation.

    • Lol at Blue
      Blues is what we reeling from
      Can’t fathom it out
      Why is Thanet staunch for con merchants
      Who have not tackled County lines or painted any lines except for expenses

    • County lines
      Years of being here
      Most adults smoke spliffs or inject drugs
      The ugly builder smokes a spliff then puts it out on the road
      Spliffs
      Weed
      Cocaine
      Thanet is notorious and no MP here gives a toss

  2. I sympathise to the owners unwanted situation. Drugs are taking over our society, and this is where the problems lays.
    I don’t think enough is being done by the Police to bring either the addicts or the dealers to rid us of this outrage. Most crime in Thanet is because of drugs. It’s getting worse by the year. As drugs are ruining Thanet, I call on the Police to stop pussy-footing around with Addicts/Dealers, to rid Thanet of them. Send them back to London with a Barring order from the Courts, never to return.

    • The police are quite happy to arrest the offenders, but its down to the rest of the criminal justice system to deal with them. St. Johns road in margate had a terrible problem with a building, blatant drug taking/dealing associated violence and anti social behaviour. The building contains flats, the front door insecure, no lighting in the common areas, trip hazards, deficiencies with fire separation, evidence of water ingress, evidence of mould.
      More than enough for the council to take action, in 4 years they did nothing, they were well aware. It took an incident of “fire bombing” to get something done.
      The police did what they could , they were there 3-4 times a week, but in the absence of the offenders being locked up it makes little difference and even then there are new dealers to take their place.
      Councils view is that even drug addicts and criminals need somewhere to live, criminal justice system has patently insufficient deterrents to stop the trade, at which point what do you do? Its why there are distinct areas separated on socio economic grounds, if you’re wealthier you can afford to live somewhere where such problems are less likely.
      Wait until section 21 is withdrawn and landlords have a very useful tool for dealing with antisocial behaviour in their properties is no longer available, it’l get much worse.
      Society has chosen to turn a blind eye for the most part in respect of drug dealing/taking, so the policy is to try and contain the associated crime and antisocial behaviour.
      It won’t change and most likely will get worse. Just keep your fingers crossed its not newr your home.

  3. Almost every road in Cliftonville westhas drug dealing going on in at least one property and as soon as they are evicted another moves in. landlords are mostly good and respect their tenants trying to help them but being told the only way to achieve removing the crooks who are cuckooing their tenants property is to evict the tenant must be overkill. There should be something that the police and councils can do to bypass the landlord using eviction of the tenant as the only answer. Isn’t cuckooing a crime in itself? if not then make it a crime and arrest and remove the cuckoo!
    No good blaming each party on their policies past and present. What we do need is action now on all this illegal drug abuse. Let the police be seen working on the streets where most of this is going on. It is blatant to the public what they see so why not the police and courts?

  4. Not to mention the local young people who get targeted at 12 years/13 years old.
    Theres no second chance for them when they get caught in schools involved in drugs, automatic expulsion. Something really needs to be done to protect these children.
    It is the party policies as none of them seem to have clear policies on drugs. softly softly hasn’t worked its just made our children targets for dealers. we need a policy one way or the other , but not in the middle.

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