Special powers to combat drug dens
POLICE have been granted special powers to close a house used by drug addicts, dealers and prostitutes in the first case of its kind in Suffolk.Officers applied to magistrates sitting in Ipswich yesterday for a closure notice to be enforced on an empty property in Canham Street in the town, following complaints from neighbours.
POLICE have been granted special powers to close a house used by drug addicts, dealers and prostitutes in the first case of its kind in Suffolk.
Officers applied to magistrates sitting in Ipswich yesterday for a closure notice to be enforced on an empty property in Canham Street in the town, following complaints from neighbours.
The property is owned by Ipswich Borough Council and had been empty for the past three months.
Neighbours had reported hearing loud screams, windows being smashed and violent language.
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Police officers attended on a number of occasions and found people illegally inside the premises, hypodermic syringes in the living room and in bins, and tinfoil and lemon juice associated with the production of crack cocaine.
Yesterday was the first time officers in Suffolk had applied for a closure order on a property, making it illegal for anyone to enter, since new legislation was introduced in January as part of the Anti Social Behaviour Act.
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During the case, magistrates heard evidence from Supt Tim Beach, of Suffolk Constabulary.
Mr Beach said the property, which had been boarded up by the council, had contained evidence linking it to drug dealers, prostitutes and users.
He said that during a visit with an anti-social officer from the council he had discovered a man who told them he was waiting for a friend who owed him money.
"We then looked round the house and immediately visible was a hypodermic syringe on the floor in the front room," he said.
"The microwave oven was still working. Immediately above in the cupboard was lemon juice and a large roll of tinfoil. The bins were searched and again, within there were a number of hypodermic syringes.
"I have no doubt whatsoever these are indicative of the use of heroin and crack cocaine."
Supt Beach explained crack cocaine was often cooked with lemon juice using a microwave, and was smoked using tinfoil, explaining the presence of the items.
Ian Seeley, a solicitor representing Suffolk Constabulary, said one neighbour interviewed was concerned that if he complained to police about the problems, he would get his throat cut.
Mr Seeley said a notice had already been served on the premises on Wednesday and copies had been placed on the building.
He added magistrates needed to be satisfied the property was being used in connection with the unlawful use or the production of class A drugs, was associated with disorder and nuisance and an order was necessary to prevent further disorder.
Magistrates granted the closure order for a period of three months until August 13, which makes it illegal for anyone to enter the property during that time.