Residents in a Kingsteignton road can look forward to some long-awaited peace over Christmas and New Year after Teignbridge Council and Devon and Cornwall Police took legal action to close a flat rented by a persistently anti-social tenant.
The privately rented one-bedroom flat in Fouracre Way, Kingsteignton, had become a frequent source of anti-social behaviour. Since March 2010 police have responded to over 40 disturbances, with issues including domestic violence, verbal abuse, loud music, animal cruelty, criminal damage and the possession of offensive weapons. A Closure Order granted at Torquay Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon (Thursday, December 23) saw the home closed completely for 10 weeks and the locks changed. Police attended the property last night as it was boarded up.
Tenant Sameena Lumber, 20, together with her partner Christopher Tribble, 32, will not be able to enter the flat for the duration of the order. The case was originally due to be heard earlier in the month, at which time the defendant was granted an adjournment until Thursday, December 23.
The move is the third time the powers (under the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 and Section 118 of Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008) have been used in Teignbridge to address persistent anti-social behaviour centred on specific properties. Anyone removed from their home under the powers are considered intentionally homeless by Teignbridge Council, meaning they will not be eligible for help finding other housing within the district.
Cllr Marie Jenkins, Teignbridge executive spokesperson for Communities and Regulation said: “We’re fortunate that Teignbridge is a low crime area, but when issues like anti-social behaviour do arise we work alongside our police colleagues to take firm action.
“This Closure Notice will have an immediate positive impact on nearby residents’ quality of life, and sends a clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.
“My hope is that this action will give the subjects cause to reconsider their behaviour and its effects on others, and maybe even seek a new start for themselves.”
Superintendent Jim Meakin of Devon and Cornwall Police said: “The actions of these individuals have had a real impact on the lives of local people and I’m very pleased that we have responded to resolve the problem.
“We have dealt with over 40 issues linked to this property, and the time has come to take tough action for the benefit of everybody in the community. For many, including their neighbours, these individuals’ actions were intolerable and affected many people’s quality of life, causing us to take this action.
“Together with the council we are sending a warning to anybody who behaves in this way that we can, and will, use these measures if they’re required.
“We will continue to keep a close eye on the situation throughout the closure period and beyond, but are hopeful that this will solve the problems.”
Anti-social behaviour in Teignbridge is tackled through the work of the South Devon and Dartmoor Community Safety Partnership, of which Teignbridge District Council and Devon and Cornwall Police are key members. It includes a full time council-employed Anti Social Behaviour Officer based at the council, along with an on-site Police Crime Prevention Officer and a police partnership office. This close working relationship helps tackle anti-social behaviour and keep crime rates down. Reported crime in the area has been falling for the past six years.
Andy Davies, Teignbridge Anti-Social Behaviour officer said: “We always aim to take a reasonable and proportional approach to tackling anti-social behaviour, and in instances like these we will take the toughest action we can to help local people.
“Nobody should have to live with this kind of persistent anti-social behaviour from their neighbours – at best it can be a consistent nuisance and at worst leaves people living in fear.
“This Closure Notice will offer residents some much needed and well earned peace in their neighbourhood over Christmas and the New Year, and I hope will have positive effects lasting long after the 10 week closure period has expired. I’d like to thank all those who worked with us and the police to give statements and stand up to these offenders, through their bravery we have been able to take the necessary action to improve everyone’s quality of life.”
(from a press release)