Shutdown of council-owned drugs den in Hemel Hempstead provides relief for victims

Operation Calamus drug raids.
Operation Calamus drug raids.

An elderly disabled man says he has lost two years of his life after living directly underneath a notorious council flat-cum-drug den.

The flat in Everest Way, Hemel Hempstead, has been shut down until February next year after Dacorum Borough Council obtained a premises closure order due to the abuse of class A drugs in the home.

Operation Calamus drug raids.

Operation Calamus drug raids.

No-one, including the tenant, will be allowed access to the property for three months – the maximum possible length of the order – due to the severity of the behaviour and crimes committed there.

Neighbour and cerebral palsy sufferer Bruce Kirk, 66, said it was not unusual for 30 to 40 people to pass through the block to visit the property in a day. He added: “If I was getting three hours sleep, I was getting a lot. It would go on all day and sometimes all night.

“Everybody else here I trust, but I never knew who was going to come out of that flat. The thought made my legs seize up every time I opened my door to go out. I feel I have lost nearly two years of my life which I won’t get back.”

The shutdown follows a series of raids carried out by police in order to drive out drug lords infiltrating the town from London and surrounding areas. The tenant of the infamous Adeyfield apartment, 37-year-old Michelle Wakeling, was arrested and charged on suspicion of possessing heroin during the raids, which were carried out in September.

Earlier this month, Wakeling pleaded guilty to the offence and was given a six-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Little more than a fortnight later, she was evicted under the order on the evidence of officers from the council’s anti-social behaviour team and police.

Watford Magistrates Court was satisfied that the property should be temporarily closed down to prevent more crime in the area and provide relief for neighbours affected by the anti-social behaviour.

Mr Kirk, who has given evidence about the crimes to police and the borough council in the past, said: “This isn’t over. We don’t want this happening again – we want to see the flat repossessed. I won’t be driven out of my home.”

Chief Insp for Dacorum Glen Channer, who oversaw the drug warrant initiative, said: “I am pleased that by working together with Dacorum Borough Council we have removed a tenant whose behaviour adversely affected the residents in Everest Way.

“They abused the privilege of being given a property. We will continue to work with the council to tackle others who cause anti-social behaviour.”