'It's not long before someone gets hurt': fears raised over anti-social behaviour problems at flats
PUBLISHED: 07:50 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 07:50 02 October 2019
People living in and around a block of flats in Norwich have warned escalating drug use and around the clock anti-social behaviour in the area mean it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.
Tenants and neighbours of the Heathgate estate in Mousehold Street in NR3 have said long-standing problems in the area are making some afraid to leave their homes and others concerned for their children's safety.
Speaking to this newspaper, many called on the council to do more to crack down on problems and said they wanted to see a greater presence from police.
But police said they were aware of problems and said they were already planning to increase their presence to address residents' concerns.
One man, who moved to Mousehold Street in January and did not wish to be identified, said problems in the area were almost constant.
He said: "It's all the time I can't come in or out of my flat without it stinking of weed.
"We have had times when I have come back to my flat from the shops and there have been drug users inside the block five foot from my door.
"It has reached breaking point, it's not going to be long before someone gets hurt, a lot of the people inside the blocks have young children.
"People have tried the police and put in complaints with the council but seems like nothing ever changes. It's people's and children's safety."
Another man in his late 20s, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: "It's been terrible for years, a lot of things happen here that shouldn't, we are out the way of it but we see it. This area is a shambles."
Cym Cant, 77, chairman of the Mousehold Tenant and Residents' Association, who has lived in and around the Mousehold Street since 1977, said she had seen lots of changes over the years: "Problems have been off and on for a long while.
"I think people living in Heathgate are concerned, the number of alcoholics, drug users, just people not being respectful at times.
"Elderly people are afraid to go out in the area [after dark], we have quite a mix of people living here, a lot of people with children don't want to live [in the flats] but there are people with children there," she said.
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Mrs Cant implored people to report problems to the police, she said: "The more people who ring the police the more power there is.
"Ring the police, even if they don't do anything immediately keep ringing up and get them coming down to enquire about what's happening."
Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys, from Norwich Police, said a lot of the problems people were reporting in Mousehold and Heathgate were not isolated to the immediate area and were the result of a complex mix of issues.
She said simply arresting vulnerable people was not a solution to the problems.
"If we focus on the people who are vulnerable and arrest them then that doesn't sort long term issues.
"From a policing point of view we have to follow the chain back to where it comes from, it's about prioritising resources to be able to make sure the issues [are addressed]."
Ch Insp Humphreys said officers were aware of problems in the area and as a result were planning to hold a number of community days, much like the force had to address similar complaints in Dolphin Grove area of the city.
She said the community days would include foot patrols and signposting people to relevant agencies.
She said: "We do lots of door knocking, so we are able to signpost people to agencies. Then we follow up to continue a dialogue with residents to allow them to have a say about policing and what we can do to make it better for them - then we know that we are putting recourse in at the right time."
Ch Insp Humphreys said the community days would be held in the area in the coming month.
A spokesperson for Norwich City Council, which owns the Heathgate flats, said the authority was currently investigating one ongoing report of anti-social behaviour.
"If anyone has concerns about anti-social behaviour, please report them to us. This allows us to look into any specific problems and build evidence which helps us assess options such as installing door entry systems.
"Any criminal activity should be reported to the police, who we work closely with to tackle issues affecting our properties."
Norwich police can be contacted on 101 or alternatively Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.