Drug gangs stir up opposition

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 14 February 2014 Updated: 14/02 09:58

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DRUG-TAKING gangs are blighting the lives of residents living at a sheltered housing scheme in Church Hill.

People living in the borough council run Mendip House, based in Loxley Close, turned up at a district PACT meeting to complain to police officers about groups gathering behind their properties, a situation which they said had worsened since the former Church Hill centre was closed off to allow for the redevelopment there.

They claimed the window of their oldest resident, who is in her 90s, had been smashed by youths which had left her shaken, with older residents ‘really scared’ by the gangs.

One resident said they had previously experienced occasional problems with youths congregating at the back of Mendip House, where there is currently no street lighting, but they were now there seven days a week.

“On the pathway there is not one single light so it is pitch black and they have got their little torches out. If a police car went past on the bus lane they wouldn’t even see them,” they said.

“Because the shops are all caged up they’re not going there anymore, there is nowhere else for them to go.

“Why should we have to shut our windows for the sake of the yobs out there? There are more coming all the time.”

A council spokeswoman said they were not aware of any issues with gangs but if residents reported their concerns the community safety team would assess the area, including the lighting.

PC Jon Watts, from Church Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team, said anti-social behaviour was now being addressed as a priority after being raised at the meeting, with community support officers carrying out reassurance visits and an increase in high visibility patrols.

“Anyone suspected of having illegal drugs will be stopped by our officers and if necessary arrests will be made,” he said.

“It will obviously help our cause if people can ring us immediately when they become aware of activity which they believe is illegal, or pass on the names of those involved.

“It’s a positive sign that people are using PACT as a platform to tell us about their issues and that’s what it’s there for. If they let us know about their problems we will deal with them.”

Information should be passed to the police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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