Residents' fury over drug-taking, human waste and public sex
- Credit: Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Copyright: Archant 2021
Despairing residents are enduring the daily torment of antisocial behaviour - including drug-dealing, human waste in stairwells, and people having sex outside their flats.
People in council properties at Ebenezer Place in north Norwich are demanding action, with one saying: "We just want our kids to be safe."
"It's been really, really bad," said one mum, who asked to remain anonymous.
"Mainly it's drug dealers and users, but I've seen people having sex outside my flat, using the blocks as toilets.
"This is not new: I've been here for years, it's been happening since the day I moved in and nothing's been done.
"I have walked home from the school run and found a man sitting on the doorstep with a needle in his arm. Slumped, literally with a needle in the arm."
Neighbour Gillian Dickinson said she thought the issue had become worse in the five years she had lived there.
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“I’ve found the makings of heroin, leftover needles, dog and human excrement outside my flat,” she said.
“One of my neighbours in her 60s, she was terrified to leave her flat because people were blocking the entrance. “I had to go and have a go, putting myself in harm's way and I’m quite old really.
“If someone decided to attack me, I would be a goner. It’s frightening.”
The mum said she got on well with all her neighbours, and there was a sense of community at Ebenezer Place but it was not safe and she had even been threatened by a man claiming to have a knife.
"Most of the people here have very young children or are elderly people. There's never any bother with the neighbours, it is people coming from outside.
"I can’t let my kids go out and play out the front because I don’t know who is going to be out there.
"We just want our kids to be safe and not have to worry every two seconds that they could come into contact with someone who could harm them."
Deborah Weinryb, detailed similar experiences at her council flat on Ber Street.
“The doors don’t have locks on them: anyone can come in,” she said.
“It’s in the middle of the city and they want somewhere to shoot up or whatever they do.
"One time I got really angry when a guy squatted in the stairwell just as I opened the door. That's pretty low."
The residents at Ebenezer Place praised the police for their help in trying to tackle the issue, saying they had been responsive and increased foot patrols through the area.
However, the residents at both properties were angry at Norwich City Council, saying it often felt like they were ignored.
“I have asked for years for them to do something," Ms Weinryb said. "I’ve learnt to call the police when I see something and then they pass the information on to the council.
“The more the council hears about it the more likely they will do something.”
They all said they had been told repeatedly by the council there was no money in the budget to install security doors, which could stop people entering the buildings.
Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn, who raised the issue at a meeting on Tuesday, said: “These people don’t feel safe in their own homes.
"The council is a landlord and has a responsibility to its tenants.”
Kevin Maguire, cabinet member for safe and sustainable city environment, said he shared residents' concerns about drug use and antisocial behaviour, encouraging them to report issues to the police.
He said Ebenezer Place and Ber Street had been identified as priorities for further safety measures, with plans for improved lighting and cutting back greenery to improve surveillance, but said long term measures would take time.
He said: “Addressing antisocial behaviour is a complex issue with many aspects to consider when putting measures in place which work for all residents, as well as address the problem.”
Sgt Christopher Clay from the safer neighbourhood team said the police were working closely with the council and residents to tackle the issue.
He said: "The partnerships we have forged with residents help us to build a better intelligence picture of where to target patrols."
The police have also advised that locks and fob entry on commercial doors in the area would help to secure properties.