"Operation Crackdown is being co-ordinated by ACPO and the Home Office. It will involve 32 police forces in England and Wales, focusing on closing drug dens, disrupting local drug markets, seizing illegal firearms and bringing dealers to justice. A key part of the campaign will be working closely with communities."
However, we have been hearing worrying tales of excess, especially in the closure of so called "drug dens." The word from the Home Office has clearly been that they expect the Police to use the new powers provided by the Antisocial Behaviour Act to close premises. But in some areas, where crack houses are few and far between, the Police appear to have struggled to find proper drug dens. So increasingly any drug user is finding themselves at risk of a closure order - even if they are not "drug dens." So squats are being emptied using these powers and people who are drug dependent and living with their families are being warned that they may be summarily removed from their properties.
We have received independent information from Wiltshire and from Hackney of such misuse of these powers, and it seems likely that such occurrences are taking place else where.
Drugs and housing advisors concerned about misuse of the powers should advise concerned service users of the following:
the property in question must be associated with Class A drug use AND nuisance or disorder; there must be evidence of both. If the property is not associated with nuisance or disorder it should be possible to challenge an application for a Closure order.
- demonstration that the property is not associated with Class A drug use. This could be supported by evidence of drugs workers, housing support workers, evidence from drug treatment projects etc
- evidence that the property is not associated with disorder or nuisance: this could come from supporting evidence from other neighbours, evidence from Housing Support workers, diary to demonstrate that nuisance is caused by others, etc
- proposals that other approaches will resolve the nuisance or disorder: this include a willingness to attend treatment, agreement to exclude visitors who cause nuisance, or willingness to change behaviour that is causing nuisance.
- other submissions that support the contention that the issuing of a closure order is not an appropriate response.