Court grants closure of Gosport ‘drug den’

A SUSPECTED drugs den in Gosport has been officially boarded up after a court hearing was told that tenants living nearby felt so unsafe that they had asked to move properties, with the announcement coming last Friday and the flat in question at Warders Court, Forton immediately closed to the general public.

It comes as court heard that neighbours’ physical and mental health had been negatively affected whilst living in the area of Chilworth Grove; having suffered constant loud noises both day and night, and regular visits to the residential block at all hours by suspected drug users or dealers from across the region.

They had been threatened both physically and verbally to be left fearing reprisals if they gave any formal statements to the police force or the council. More details of life for nearby residents were given to the court by Gosport Borough Council as they applied for a closure order supported by Hampshire Constabulary.

The council told the court the application was needed to safeguard residents from increasing anti-social behaviour, drug-related offences, crime, and disorder. It also outlined that police were called to the address on multiple occasions, finding drug paraphernalia, a burner phone, and a kitchen knife on a bedside cabinet.

The order was granted by Portsmouth Magistrates with immediate effect, meaning the flat has been sealed for three months until at least August and anyone who enters is liable to a large fine or custodial sentence if caught. It is expected that the order will furthermore be reviewed by the same court nearer the time to see if it is extended or whether the flat can be reopened to the public.

A spokesperson from Gosport Borough Council said in response to the court order: “We took this action on behalf of other residents of the block and neighbouring area, who have endured so much disruption and stress from noise and drug-related activity. We’re glad the court agreed with us that the closure order was necessary. We’re in the process of applying to the civil courts to permanently evict the tenant.”

Sgt Alison Zachs, from Hampshire Constabulary, also gave her thoughts on behalf of the police force saying: “Drugs supply makes lives of local residents an absolute misery. Not only does it bring people from outside of the area to commit crime, but it also attracts other types of crime to the community, as well as anti-social behaviour which has a negative impact on people living nearby.”

“Officers conducted a warrant at this address back in March, and in the wake of this we have been working closely with our Gosport Borough Council partners to take further action. I am pleased that this closure order has now been granted. I hope this not only reassures people in Gosport about how seriously we take the supply of drugs in our neighbourhoods, but also provides some understanding of what additional avenues we can explore, as a partnership, to obstruct suppliers and make it difficult for them to operate.

She concluded by asking residents to report drug issues: “Please continue to report information about drugs supply to police by calling 101, so we can develop a picture of what is happening, who is involved, and where. Sometimes you may not see an immediate police response, but that’s because we need to build an evidential picture of the issues and the areas that need targeting. Every single piece of information you supply to us will be assessed and where possible, we will work closely with our partners to action it.”

PICTURED BY SHUTTERSTOCK: Police have power to arrest anybody who enters flat under closure order.