A WALCOT crack den likened by one neighbour to being as busy as Piccadilly Circus has been closed by police.

It followed a raid earlier this week, during which officers found class A drugs, knives and an alleged drug dealer from London. Wiltshire Police had had reports of dealers waving knives inside the flat and using it as a base from which to sell drugs.

The partial closure order, signed by Swindon magistrates this morning, bans anyone except the tenant, Diane Ponting, emergency services or borough council from entering 5 Raleigh Avenue.

In papers prepared for magistrates, PC Mike Diffin said: “Ponting is allowing dangerous people to temporarily reside at the house and use the house as a base for dealing drugs to the local community.

“The public feels frightened to venture outside their homes within this area through fear of seeing or being indirectly exposed to related activity.”

Many of those living in the Raleigh Avenue block of flats were single mothers and their children, magistrates heard.

Since Miss Ponting had moved into the council flat last November, residents on the streets had made a number of emergency calls to police.

On one night last month, police had been called over reports a Nepalese man had been brandishing a knife. The windows were also reportedly smashed on the same night.

Miss Ponting was a vulnerable class A drug addict who spent an estimated £200 on her habit every day, PC Diffin told magistrates.

The 32-year-old woman was suspected of having been cuckooed, a process by which drug dealers are said to take over a vulnerable addict’s home and use it as a base from which to deal drugs. Magistrates heard dealers had “pretty much forced” themselves into Miss Ponting’s home.

When police had raided the block earlier this week, Miss Ponting’s flat was in “complete disarray”. Dirty mattresses and discarded drug paraphernalia pointed to the flat having been used as a crack den. A man said to have been in possession of a knife was found attempting to flee from a window.

One neighbour told police at the following the raid “it was like Piccadilly Circus all night”.

Magistrates made the partial closure order for a period of three months. Chairman of the bench Jane Durrant said: “We feel this is necessary to prevent disturbance and allow the resident to live a life free from the threat of violence.”

Following the case, PC Paul Bezzant said: “This is the fifth partial closure order that’s been obtained across Swindon so far this year and it’s proving an excellent tactic to protect vulnerable people and also reduce criminality and anti-social behaviour surrounding the addresses involved.

"Once the order is in place regular checks are undertaken by the local officers to enforce the orders and ongoing work with the landlord, in this case Swindon Borough Council, to come up with a longer term solution.

"This case shows the importance of the community reporting their concerns to us so we can take action to disrupt any illegal activity taking place."