Police enforce court closure order
Two Colliers Wood houses which have been used as a squat for around 18 months have been cleared after police enforced a court order.
Police said the squatters living in the semi-detached houses in Denison Road (right) had been arrested on several occasions and had refused to co-operate with officers or the local authority.
They said local residents and businesses had reported a series of anti-social behaviour incidents and crimes being committed, including thefts from local shops, fighting and general disorder.
Merton Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team worked in partnership with Safer Merton's Anti Social Behaviour Unit and Merton Council's Environmental Health team, to carry out an investigation.
A case was presented to Wimbledon Magistrates Court on November 25, who issued an immediate closure order.
The Safer Neighbourhoods Team along with the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit attended the premises in Denison Road that day to enforce the order. The premises were secured and boarded up - anyone who returns to the property trying to gain entry commits an offence and risks immediate arrest.
Sergeant Tony Richardson, Colliers Wood Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: "This intensive operation represents a thorough and wide ranging investigation, to ensure we were able to present the best evidence possible to the court to secure this Closure Order.
"With the patience and support of our local residents and businesses, we have taken permanent action to close these properties down. This is police, council and community coming together in partnership to effectively tackle a long term local problem."
Councillor Edith Macauley, Merton Council cabinet member for community safety, engagement and equalities, said: "The closure of this property is a great example of partnership working. This is a very rare and extreme action which residents and local businesses were very supportive of due to the huge impact the squatters and their behaviour were having on the area.
"A number of council and Safer Merton officers including our environmental health team, lawyers and anti-social behaviour officers, worked tirelessly alongside the Police to gather evidence of issues, speak to other residents and respond to numerous complaints.
"It is this commitment to the cause that has helped get the necessary results and ensured that we are looking after the needs of the other residents in the area and working to keep the borough as clean and safe as possible."
The council is now seeking to take ownership of the property in order to recoup accumulating costs.
December 1, 2011