COUNCIL SHUTS DRUGS DEN / ROGUE TRADER GETS THREE YEARS JAIL / WOMAN JAILED FOR 30 MONTHS FOR BENEFIT FRAUD / COUNCIL LEADER GETS O.B.E
COUNCIL SHUTS DRUGS DEN
A Croydon house known for drug-taking, harassment and antisocial behaviour has been boarded up by council enforcement officers.
The council’s antisocial behaviour enforcement team shut the property in New Addington – just hours after Croydon magistrates agreed a formal closure order.
A council spokesman said they had taken action in response to ongoing neighbours’ complaints about the property, which included:
• Drug taking
• Visitors who were drunk and abusive to neighbours
• Fighting in the flat and communal areas
• Visitors at all hours regularly ringing neighbours’ buzzers to be let in
• Noise, including loud music, shouting and swearing
“Police attended the flat on several occasions in response to complaints about antisocial behaviour” said a council statement. “On one occasion several weeks ago they found crack pipes and needles and the tenant admitted having smoked crack in the house but denied using heroin.
“The council made several attempts to get the tenant to improve their behaviour, including the tenant signing an acceptable behaviour contract in September 2015 with the tenancy team. “This was breached on several occasions which led to the council applying for the closure order. “The property will remain shut for three months.”
Croydon’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice Cllr Mark Watson said: “We do not tolerate anti-social Croydon residents making their neighbours’ lives a misery, and we always take action if they refuse to change their ways.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
ROGUE TRADER GETS THREE YEARS JAIL
A Faversham man has been jailed for three years after conning an 80-year-old Beckenham resident out of £21,700.
The man had earlier pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation after persuading the resident he needed essential repairs to the guttering on his house, which the resident agreed to have done.
Further work was carried out without his permission and he was charged a total of £21,700 for work which was later valued by a Trading Standards-appointed expert at £500.
The man was issued with a five-year criminal behaviour order which bans him from cold calling anywhere in England and Wales.
Trading Standards were alerted by a concerned neighbour who called the team after seeing the rapid response number advertised locally.
Officers visited the victim and while they were there the fraudster unexpectedly turned up but ran off when he saw them. He was later arrested by police on a different matter and presented to Trading Standards for questioning.
A Bromley council spokeswoman said: “The fraudster is well known to Bromley Trading Standards who have previously prosecuted him for similar offences, the most recent in 2012 when he was jailed for eight weeks and given a two-year ASBO banning him from trading in the borough.
“In 2011 he was imprisoned for eight weeks suspended for a year for charging vulnerable residents for bogus repairs.
“On sentencing the judge said the offences ‘were serious and preying on elderly people rightly draws public disgust and outrage. ‘The impact on the victim was substantial’.
“In mitigation the fraudster said ‘With hindsight it should not have happened’. “He pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity but this was disregarded by the judge because of the impact the offences had on the victim.
“A victim impact statement was read out in court by the consumer who said: ‘I used to take people at their face value and trusted them in what they said. ‘I am now less confident and don’t trust people. ‘On the last day he was here he was aggressive, and looking back I think I was a bit afraid of him’.”
Bromley’s executive member for public protection and safety Cllr Kate Lymer said: “My thanks go to the neighbour who reported this matter which otherwise may have gone undetected”.
Their Trading Standards rapid response team can be contacted on 07903 852090. (Source: Bromley council press release)
WOMAN JAILED FOR 30 MONTHS FOR BENEFIT FRAUD
A 52 year-old woman from South Lambeth has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of fraud and admitting she had claimed over £96,000 in Housing Benefit for a property that she owned.
The case, brings to £3.6m the amount Lambeth council’s Counter Fraud Team have secured through interventions in 2015.
The woman also failed to declare she owned and rented out a second property in Croydon, and was in the process of claiming an extra £40,000 as a backdated payment of benefit when the offence was identified by a Lambeth assessment officer.
The fraud started in 2006, when she put in a claim for benefit for help to pay rent she claimed to pay to a private landlord – when she actually owned the property.
The investigation found that she had declared one bank account in one name when in fact she held eight further bank accounts in other names and that she owned a second property which she rented out for £1,100 a month.
The bank accounts that had not been declared indicated that she had been working at times during the period of her claim and she had not disclosed any such employment to the council
She was sentenced at the Inner London Crown Court following the investigation led by Lambeth council fraud officers. The council has now begun work to recover the outstanding debt through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), as well as any gain made in the value of the property she owned in Croydon, which had been paid for in part through her crime.
Lambeth council say that in the past year its counter fraud team have:
• Recovered 93 properties that were subject to tenancy fraud at a value of £1.674m
• Made recommendations for the recovery of 104 properties that were subject to tenancy fraud
• Prevented eight right to buy discounts valued at over £800,000
• Prosecuted 14 claimants for benefit fraud and secured sanctions against another 10 claimants (even though benefit fraud investigations were transferred to DWP in February 2015)
• Prosecuted six tenants for tenancy fraud offences (four in relation to subletting and two for right to buy fraud)
• Identified £662,000 in fraudulent benefit overpayments
• Secured compensation payments in relation to three cases under Proceeds of Crime legislation exceeding £430,000.
• Secured compensation of £75,000 in relation to a tenancy fraud prosecution
(Source: Lambeth council press release.)
COUNCIL LEADER GETS O.B.E
Southwark council leader Cllr Peter John has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours for political services and services to local government.
Cllr John said: “It is hard to put into words how honoured and humbled I feel to be included in this year’s New Year Honours. “I often tell people that Southwark is the best borough in the best city in the world, and I am incredibly proud to serve this great community.
“Local government isn’t always recognised for all the good work it does, but being a council Leader is a hugely rewarding job, and I hope that people see today’s announcement as recognition for our borough as well.” (Source: Southwark council press release)