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Crime crackdown near Norwich theatre

PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 November 2010

A crackdown on drug users and drunks is to be carried out in an alleyway close to a city theatre after people complained they would no longer visit the area because of the problems.

St John’s Alley, near the Maddermarket Theatre, is frequented by drinkers and drug users who have caused a nuisance to people in the area, including theatre-goers.

A meeting of the City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) heard earlier this month that some people had vowed to no longer visit the theatre if drug use and aggressive behaviour persisted.

Tackling anti-social behaviour in the area, and targeting drug users and drinkers, has now been made a safer neighbourhood priority for the next three months.

Julian Foster, chairman of the City Centre SNAP and of the Central Norwich Citizens’ Forum, said: “As I understand it from the people who came to the public meeting and spoke about it the problem occurs in the churchyard at St John Maddermarket and apparently its quite well known as a place for drug users to meet and has been for a long time.

“Someone stood up and said that people coming to the Maddermarket Theatre had reduced by 20 per cent. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel that its unsafe to go to that part of the city. It’s not a very well lit part of the city and does attract people, like drug users, who don’t want to be seen.”

Mr Foster said the Safer Neighbourhood Team were now looking into the issue and would hopefully resolve the problems by ensuring extra police patrols were carried out in the area.

He added: “There will be extra police patrols which means during the day with Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and police officers at night.”

Michael Lyas, a relief manager at the Maddermarket Theatre, said it was hard for him to say it was not the case that problems in the evening were putting people off coming but was not aware of there being problems in the evening. He only knew about problems occurring during the day before the theatre opened to the general public.

He said: “There’s been a problem during the day time on occasions. People use the graveyard and alleyway for drinking and presumably occasional drugs. That’s during the day but not really aware of there being a particular problem at night when the audiences are coming.”

Other priorities to be tackled by the city centre Safer Neighbourhood Team following the meeting at the Friends Meeting House on Upper Goat Lane, Norwich, include tackling anti-social behaviour on Cathedral Street and St Faith’s Lane and also outside The Forum.

<t> To contact your Safer Neighbourhood Team call 0845 456 4567.

<t> Is your life being made a misery by anti-social behaviour? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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