Squat on Woodberry Down Estate boarded up by police after complaints of drug taking and anti-social behaviour
PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:03 03 May 2019
A housing estate squat which was the source of drug use and anti-social behaviour has been boarded up by police, much to the relief of neighbours.
Police arrived at Havering House on the Woodberry Down Estate last week to find windows broken in and rubbish strewn across the floor outside the block.
Neighbours claimed they had complained several times to police and the council because squatters had damaged property and created a hostile atmosphere.
One person on the ground floor explained squatters had torn apart the netting on his balcony after repeatedly using it to climb up to the first-floor squat and enter through an open window when they were no longer allowed official access.
“Sometimes my girlfriend stays here on her own, and I just don't want her to feel scared. They climb all over the railings outside and jump onto my balcony,” he said.
In a flat opposite the squat, Halim Ozcomert said: “Obviously you don't know what people's life situations are so I can't say, but I'm 99 percent sure that they were on crack.
“I know people who have complained because of the noise and damage done to properties.”
Jane Frost, a disabled elderly tenant living opposite the squat, said its occupiers had often smashed the community lights in order to take drugs on the stairwell without being caught on CCTV.
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“Quite a few times I've come home to no lights outside,” said Jane.
“I once had to clean the entire stairwell because they spit a lot when they take drugs. It was all over the banister and the stairs and I had to wipe everything down, and then they're out there again straight away doing it all over.
“It doesn't help that I'm disabled and find it hard to move around and I don't think it should be my job to clean up the mess.”
Jane moved to the estate in the 1940s, when she said it was unrecognizable from its current state.
“People used to tell the council they wanted a Havering flat and the council would say to them, 'you want the Earth.' It was so beautiful back then.”
Norah Solomon lives on the next block down. She said: “All the children used to play down here and they don't anymore.
“The squatters took drugs in the stairwell. My granddaughters often come around and I tell them to do what I do – walk straight past, shut my door and stay inside. What else can you do?”
Another Havering resident noted that flagrant drug use is not limited to squatters: “Everyone is buying drugs here. I can sit on my balcony and watch about 20 deals in an evening.
“A man waits down in the courtyard, then one of the young people meet him and they go round a corner, and the man drives off. Sometimes they just do it right in the middle of the courtyard. It's not subtle, is it?”
The same resident described an incident on Saturday, in which a man and a woman screamed and kicked on a woman's door until they phoned the police, as “normal round here”.