‘Reclaim the streets’ - call for community action to tackle drug crime

Russell Street has been having problems with anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. Picture: Andrew

Russell Street has been having problems with anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. Picture: Andrew Stone - Credit: Archant

People living in Norwich estates 'plagued' by problems with drugs and anti-social behaviour have been urged to 'reclaim the streets'.

Photo: Nick Butcher

Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: EDP pics © 2005

Norfolk Police and Norwich City Council organised a meeting for those living around Heigham Grove and areas around Old Palace Road to respond to community concerns.

The area has seen several closure orders put on addresses, along with drug raids, stabbings and a shooting in the last year.

John Regan, 69, of Waddington Street, said dealers and 'yobs' are 'causing havoc on a regular basis'.

He added he recently called 999 when he caught someone trying his door handle at midnight.

Russell Street Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Russell Street Community Centre.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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'We have panic alarms fitted to these properties and the average time to pick up can be 20 minutes,' he said. 'They are thinking there are old and vulnerable people living there.'

There was a call for more community engagement to solve the problem. Eighteen months ago the Russell Street Residents Association formed in response to anti-social behaviour and dealing.

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Recently attendances at meetings has dwindled, said committee member Simon Crawford.

'A lot of this is apathy,' he said. 'The whole idea of the residents associations is to get the community back together with a community spirit.

'There is 1,000 times more apathy in the area than there is community spirit. The biggest thing that is going on in this city people are upset about is anti-social behaviour and drug crime. We know the crime has been driven out of the city centre into the suburbs.'

County councillor for Mancroft ward, Labour's Danny Douglas, added: 'We have to reclaim the streets. People participate in different ways and the work of residents associations does help. We are in the majority.'

Council officers told the meeting new mobile CCTV units are being brought in this May, and said efforts such as those seen in the Old Library Wood area of Norwich could be beneficial.

'We can tackle it indirectly by making the area better,' said Kate Price, neighbourhoods and community enabling manager at Norwich City Council.

'We are so much more powerful when we sit down together and think about what we can achieve. People are less likely to be nefarious if a place is better looked after and better maintained. Drug dealers will be less likely to deal drugs in a well-used area.'

Anyone who has concerns about drug dealing in their area should call 101. Alternatively email officers in your safer neighbourhood team.

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