Fine for failing to tackle anti-social behaviour

A landowner who failed to take action to prevent an abandoned caravan being used to support drug taking and other anti-social activities on his site has been ordered to pay more than £1,600 in fines and court costs.

Malvern Hills District Council has also been granted permission to remove and destroy the caravan and secure an abandoned building on the site known as Malvern Link Storage Depot, Lower Howsell Road, Malvern.

The orders follow a hearing at Worcester Magistrates' Court on Friday, 30 November. Site owner Simon Doherty - of Hodgkinson Road, Kirby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham - was convicted in his absence of failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice issued by the council under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

West Mercia Police initially reported the site to the council on 8 May this year due to concerns about people using the caravan for drug dealing, drug use and disorder offences.

A warning letter was sent to Mr Doherty by police highlighting the issues involved but there was no response. The council then took over the investigation and officers undertook their own site visit on 24 July. They noted a significant amount of waste on the ground including drug paraphernalia, the caravan which appeared to be abandoned and being used for anti-social behaviour and an abandoned building in a derelict state.

A Community Protection Warning was initially issued requiring Mr Doherty to remove the caravan from the site and take reasonable measures to protect the land from future encampments by 31 July. This was not responded to resulting in a Community Protection Notice being issued on 1 August, again requiring within 22 days the caravan to be removed, the land cleared of waste and measures taken to prevent future encampments and secure the building.

Mr Doherty made contact on 2 August and 14 August stating he would attempt to find out who the owner of the caravan was and have it removed with immediate effect. However, despite giving Mr Doherty five extra days to comply with the notice no action was taken, leading to his prosecution.

Magistrates fined Mr Doherty £293, ordered him to pay £1,345 in costs and a £30 victim surcharge. He will also be charged for the cost of having the caravan removed and the building secured.

Cllr Bronwen Behan, responsible for Community Safety on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "The activities taking place on this site were causing significant harm to our communities and I'm delighted the court has supported us so we can take action in this case. Everyone has a role to play in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and this case sends a clear message that we will not allow landowners to shirk their responsibilities."

Sgt Simon Hallam, from West Mercia Police, said: "This is a fantastic example of how we work together with our partners to use the full weight of the law to tackle criminality and deal with anti-social behaviour causing harm to our communities." 

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