Partial closure order demonstrates excellent partnership working between council police and local residents

The council has been successful in working with Kent Police and local residents to gather evidence, make an application for, and obtain a Partial Closure Order.

At a telephone hearing that took place at Medway Magistrates Court on 7 May 2020, a partial closure order was secured for three months. This can if necessary be extended by application for a further three months.

A ‘Partial’ Closure Order is where the tenant can stay but no one else can – and a ‘Full’ Closure Order is where no one, including the tenant, can stay. Obtaining such an order is no easy task and requires a multi-agency approach, given the associated dangers of weapons. This is the eighth partial closure order obtained by the council in the last 12 months, in addition to two full closure orders.

The defendant was Lisa Baxter (53) of 28 Mallards, Cudworth, Ashford, Kent. She did not attend the hearing and the application proceeded in her absence, the court being satisfied that she had been served with the application and was aware of the hearing.

The Partial Closure Order was made on the grounds that:

  • a person has engaged, or (if the order is not made) is likely to engage, in disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises, or;
  • the use of the premises has resulted, or (if the order is not made) is likely to result, in serious nuisance to members of the public, or;
  • there has been, or (if the order is not made) is likely to be, disorder near those premises associated with the use of those premises,
  • and that the order is necessary to prevent the behaviour, nuisance or disorder from continuing, recurring or occurring.

It was alleged that the defendant had engaged in disorderly, offensive and criminal behaviour by consistently allowing the premises to be used for parties, where alcohol had been consumed and loud music had been played. It was further alleged that fights within the flat had broken out into the communal areas and that these parties had continued throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Regular visitors to the property engaged in the behaviour described but the tenant appeared to have no control over who visited the address or their disruptive ASB.

The effect of the partial closure order is that the defendant can now use this to refuse access to all visitors to her flat and enables her to call the police if they do not listen. Anyone who is found by the police to be in the flat who are not authorised to be in the property are committing a criminal offence and, if found guilty, are liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for up to 51 weeks or an unlimited fine.

In legal terms the defendant is not committing the offence, the visitors are by entering the property, ignoring notices on both the front door and on the flat itself, indicating that to enter is an offence.

Cllr Bill Barratt, Ashford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “Obtaining these closure orders requires a lot of hard work and incredibly close partnership working. We thank Kent Police for their unstinting ongoing support to help reduce ASB in neighbourhoods for our residents. We are pleased that the courts continue to take these offences so seriously and trust that this Partial Closure Order will alleviate concerns of residents in this area.”

Inspector Jason Atkinson, of the Ashford Community Safety Unit, said: “Kent Police does not underestimate the impact that anti-social behaviour can have on the lives of our residents and we are determined to tackle the issue head on. This latest action demonstrates how we work closely with our partner agencies to improve the quality of life in our community. Working in partnership with Ashford Borough Council, Kent Police has supported the local authority in obtaining two full closure orders and eight partial closure orders in the last 12 months.

“We ask residents to work with us by reporting incidents and, if necessary, keeping a diary of events so we can continue to crack down on the small minority who make life miserable for others. I would like to praise the hard work of officers and partners which had led to the obtaining of this order.”

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