CHILDREN were forced to dodge naked drug needles in one of Swindon’s oldest conservation areas, a court heard.

And those living in the historic terraces between Faringdon Road and Reading Street in the Railway Village were subjected to drug addicts, dealers and sex workers yelling abuse and banging on the door of a vulnerable drug addict.

Now, a flat on Faringdon Road has become the latest to be shut in Wiltshire Police’s battle against County Lines gangs.

Granting the three month closure order banning anyone but the tenant from entering the flat, Swindon magistrates were told the council flat’s 52-year-old tenant, Mark Stafford, was so terrified of the dealers that had taken over his home that he repeatedly asked Swindon Borough Council to move him.

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In the last month, police had 10 reports of drug dealing connected to the Faringdon Road flat. A sex worker and County Lines dealer had been found sleeping at the home, there was information a pair had been bagging heroin from the flat and numerous people had been seen coming and going.

Stafford’s door had been broken, said community coordinator PC Craig Thompson. In a police statement prepared for magistrates the constable said: “The council was called out to make it secure because he was scared to go back there for fear of someone being in there. This was due to the drug network and the sex workers having access to the premises at all times of the day and night. Stafford was powerless to stop them and sometimes didn’t even know who was actually staying in his flat.”

Uncapped needles were regularly found in alleyways near the flat: “These are alleyways that children play in and local residents walk down.” Neighbours were regularly woken by people banging on the door of the house.

PC Thompson warned JPs about the danger of the drugs gangs: “Dangerous drug networks are no strangers to violence and the people involved in these gangs will not hesitate to use violence if they think someone has wronged them.

“This in turn causes people to stay quiet and to suffer in silence for fear of what might happen to them.”

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Mr Stafford’s home is now the second flat in the small terrace of 16 houses on Faringdon Road to have been sealed by police.

The two flats, which open onto a back alleyway, are a stone’s throw from the Railway Worker’s Cottage museum, owned by the Mechanics’ Institution Trust. Chairman David Thackray said: “We would welcome the police intervention to crack down on drugs in the area.”

Earlier this month, the Railway Village was formally made a Heritage Action Zone. Backed by the council and Historic England, The £1.6m scheme will see historic buildings like the Mechanics’ Institute, Carriage Works and the Health Hydro repaired.

14 crack den closure orders since January

The Faringdon Road flat became the 14th Swindon crack den to be closed by court order since the start of the year.

Police in the town are increasingly turning to the tactic to tackle dangerous County Lines gangs - and protect the vulnerable residents cuckooed by the dealers.

Faringdon Road man Mark Stafford was said to have been spending £00 on his class A drug addiction.

PC Mike Diffin told Swindon magistrates yesterday that the closure notice would ensure Mr Stafford could get the support he needed from the council housing team and addiction specialists.

South Swindon sergeant Dave Tippetts said: “Closure orders are a fantastic way to both protect the resident at the property concerned, and disrupt the criminal activity of the drug network. The order will be in place for three months, which allows us time to work with local partner agencies to put in place a more long term solution to prevent the address being used in a similar way in the future.”