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Changes made to homeless apartments to combat anti-social behaviour
NEW measures are being put in place to combat anti-social behaviour at a residence for homeless youths in Bishop Auckland.
Home Group took on a three year lease of 28 apartments in two blocks of the former old people’s home General Bucher Court last year to provide a service to homeless youths aged 16 to 25 turn their lives around.
However, residents living nearby have grown increasingly concerned about vandalism, cars being damaged, noisy behaviour and drugs paraphernalia being found in back alleys.
In recent weeks representatives from the police, and Home Group, together with residents have been talking about how the problems can be solved.
Now CCTV has been installed to cover internal and external areas of General Bucher Court, extra qualified security staff, fire doors fitted with locks to prevent unauthorised access and restrictors on windows are just some of the measures which have been agreed to.
In addition, the rooms will be filled with long-term residents, which will allow people to become more settled. Temporary places will now be offered in smaller buildings elsewhere in County Durham.
Until now the first block was for people to stay up to 14 weeks, who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, while block two allows for people to stay up to two years.
Neighbourhood Inspector Martin Peace, of Bishop Auckland police, said a police office had been set up on the site and the issues are being closely monitored.
“The site is going to be patrolled externally now by their security and hopefully this will make a big difference to the issues that are going on.
“We are more hopeful now. Like the residents we were beginning to become concerned about the number of issues we were having down there.”
Maria Hammond, Home Group’s head of client services, said: “We do not own General Boucher Court and many of the residents’ concerns such as CCTV coverage, fences and access routes have been the landlord’s responsibility.
“We’ve now agreed with the landlord that we will assume these responsibilities. We’ll always work with neighbours to address their concerns."
She added: “A fence installed by the landlord has proved unpopular and we’re exploring alternative designs with neighbours.”