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The Westgate Gardens flats in St Peter’s Place

Housing chiefs shut city drugs den

A flat used for drug dealing has been shut by the authorities.

Meant to be the home of a woman in her 70s, number 11 Westgate Gardens Flats in St Peter’s Place, Canterbury, is now closed following an applications to the magistrates’ court.

The order was obtained by Canterbury City Council and East Kent Housing with the support of Kent Police.

Anyone caught going inside the first floor flat will be committing a criminal offence.

The flat had been used in a process called cuckooing – in which the home of a vulnerable person is used as a base for selling class A drugs, especially crack and heroin, to users.

East Kent Housing Chief Executive Deborah Upton said: “Young families and others living nearby were being forced to endure anti-social behaviour and the nuisance of visitors arriving to this flat at all times of the day and night. We could not let this situation continue and were forced to take this action.

“Throwing someone out of their home is always a last resort but the tenant had refused our repeated offers of help and support and seemed to be a willing participant.

“This and another recent case proves we will not hesitate to tackle drug dealing from our properties and make life harder for the gangs who profit from the misery of others.

“We are working with Kent County Council, city council housing officers and Catching Lives to try and rehouse the tenant in a safe place.”

The city council, EKH and the police joined forces earlier in the month to secure a closure order on 126 Pier Avenue, Herne Bay. This property had been cuckooed, taken over by a London drug dealing gang who are expert in exploiting vulnerable people who feel unable to say no.

Sgt Lee Thompson from the Community Safety Unit said: “Kent Police will not tolerate drug use and the criminality and anti-social behaviour which affects other people living nearby.

“Members of the public are urged to look out for signs, such as increased anti-social behaviour and visitors at unusual times of the day, and report them to us as soon as possible.

“Please call 101, or 999 if a crime is taking place, or report online by visiting www.kent.police.uk/services/report-a-crime. You can also call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

“This information can be invaluable for officers targeting offenders as well as applying for closure orders like this.”

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