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Bid to change Norwich street's reputation as traders report drop in crime

Eric Kirk, chair of the Magdalen Street Association

Eric Kirk, chair of the Magdalen Street Association

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Traders on one of Norwich's busiest streets say they are working to change its reputation amid a turnaround in crime and cleanliness.

The Magdalen Street Traders Association (MATA), which was set up in 2015 to give a voice to local business owners, say crimes and anti-social behaviour have become less common over the last few years.

They said changes had been particularly noticeable after a policing shake-up in 2017, which saw two officers assigned to the area.

Eric Kirk, its chairman, said: “The situation has massively improved. We have maintained quite a good police presence, and we have seen a marked reduction in the amount of crime in the whole of the street.

“The reputation of the area sometimes gets dragged up as though it is a still a problem, but police have done a fantastic job here.”

He accepted there would always be problems in a city centre area, and said some of those centred on residential areas off the main street.

Norfolk police figures show the number of reported crimes on and around Magdalen Street fell from 61 in 2017 to 40 last year.

But while many might have seen improvements, one man, who owns a building on the street and has lived above it for almost a decade, disagreed.

He said anti-social behaviour near him was as prevalent as ever, and had forced him to consider relocating.

Magdalen Street flyover. Picture: ANTONY KELLYMagdalen Street flyover. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“It seems it has become somewhere junkies use as a drug ground,” he said. “Sometimes you see young men aged 13 or 14 dealing drugs. My family has had a building since 1954, but I don’t want to live here anymore.”

Chief inspector Sonia Humphreys said there had been improvements in the area, which were likely to have been brought about by a range of factors.

She said removing PCSOs had enabled the force to have more beat teams, and greater visibility.

She said: “With some of the drug networks infiltrating the city, they can move quite rapidly. They will be somewhere and then elsewhere quite quickly.

“We do recognise that we have had a problem at Magdalen Street, which is why we have given it some attention.”

She added that the area’s reputation was also changing, with it now seen as trendy and a more desirable place to live.

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