"I am living on the streets now" - police shut down drugs flat raided four times in four months
A Norwich flat connected with drug dealing raided four times by police in four months has been shut down.
Former tenant James Meaney failed in his bid to fight the closure order at Norwich Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning, but has now become homeless.
The Watson Grove address was first raided by police in October.
Officers seized 400 wraps of suspected Class A drugs, and three people - including Mr Meaney - were charged with possession with intent to supply.
But he claimed his involvement was only limited to allowing the two men to sleep at his flat.
Police have since raided the property twice in December, seizing multiple mobile phones, a “small amount” of crack cocaine and several bikes, suspected to be stolen.
Finally on January 30, cash and a large quantity of suspected Class A drugs were seized.
Three people - including an 18-year-old man from Bedford - were also arrested in connection with drug supply offences.
On Wednesday morning Norfolk Police applied for a closure order for three months - evicting Mr Meaney from the property.
A/Sgt Sam Burton, of the Norwich operational partnership team, said it was a “last resort”.
“We look at the bigger picture and if we are getting consistent anti-social behaviour calls or if we have executed a number of warrants we will look at taking further action,” he said.
“When we come and speak to local residents all we are seeing is anti-social behaviour all associated with this address.
“We do not like making people homeless but what other options have we got? We have to balance the needs of the people that live here with making him homeless.
“People have been to warn him about his behaviour and he just hasn’t listened.”
A woman found inside the property was reported, and a suspected stolen bike was seized when police attended to board up the flat.
As he was being ejected from his home, Mr Meaney said he was being “persecuted”.
He said: “They have accused me of every crime that has happened around here in the last six months. All I have tried to do is help people.
“I have tried to take homeless people in off the street.
“I am living on the streets now, I don’t have a choice.”
After a property on Derby Street was granted a closure order in 2017, the tenant simply moved back in after three months was up.
Norwich City Council are considering a repossession notice in relation to Watson Grove to prevent that.
Sgt Mark Shepherd, of the Norwich east safer neighbourhood team, said the closure was the result of local residents reporting concerns.
“It is the residents who are getting the respite from having to put up with this behaviour for so many months.
“We have offered to support him all the way along. If you do not want to take that help you only have yourself to blame.”
But he added the drug trade will simply move to another area and encouraged residents to call in any suspected dealing.
“We will need residents to let us know where it has moved to because there is a need for people to buy drugs and if the community feel they can notify us we can take action like we have at this address,” he said.
“This is one result and I dare say there are other addresses out there we do not know about.”
Anyone with concerns about drug dealing in their area should call Norfolk Police on 101.