A VULNERABLE drug addict raised concerns about gangs and other addicts banging on his door six months before the authorities took the case to court.

Mark Stafford, 52, first contacted Swindon Borough Council in January, telling officers people were knocking on his door all day and night, asking to come in and threatening to hurt him.

The Faringdon Road man, who was being cuckooed by dangerous County Lines drug dealers and whose council flat was this week sealed by police, told the borough he was “too frightened” to stay in flat, that £40 had been taken from him in a mugging, and people had visited his flat “trying to kick his door down”. He asked to be moved out of Swindon.

Applying to Swindon magistrates this week for a three-month closure order on the flat, PC Mike Diffin of Wiltshire Police said drug dealing and anti-social behaviour around the Railway Village home had dropped off between February and May. However, in the last month activity had picked up again, with police finding a suspected drug dealer in the flat linked to a dealer hotline nicknamed “Larry”.

PC Diffin said the closure order, banning all but Mr Stafford, 999 workers and the council from entering the flat, would give the authorities the chance to get housing and addiction support for the vulnerable tenant.

Asked by the Adver why it had taken almost six months to take the case to court, Swindon Borough Council’s housing chief Coun Cathy Martyn defended the borough’s record. She said: “Mr Stafford came to us with safety concerns earlier in the year and we advised him to contact the police. At the same time, the council’s housing service was supporting Mr Stafford, which culminated in the application for a closure order.

"This is an effective remedy to protect people who are vulnerable to what is known as ‘cuckooing’. The council does take robust and timely action in these instances. The collection of evidence can take some time and we continue to offer support to individuals in these circumstances until a more permanent solution is found.”

Since the start of the year, Wiltshire Police has successfully obtained 14 closure orders. The court orders, signed by magistrates and applied for under anti-social behaviour laws, usually last three months and are designed to stop those accused of criminal or anti-social behaviour from staying at a property.

Of the 14 properties closed by police, many have been owned by the council. They include one Raleigh Avenue flat where addicts and dealers had left dirty mattresses strewn across the floor alongside littered needles and cigarette ends.