6:15 AM August 4, 2022
Drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes have returned to a once notorious part of the city which had cleaned up its act.
That is the warning today from worried locals who believe the Rosary Road area could descend back to the dark days if police patrols are not stepped up.
Neighbors have said the problems associated with kerb crawling and sex workers touting for business had got better during the pandemic but feel it now spiraling out of control.
There are also concerns over anti-social behavior including drug taking and littering in the Old Library Wood area as well as drug taking and dealing around Rosary Road, which has prompted a meeting tonight organized by Norfolk Police and The Old Library Wood Collective.
A mother-of-two, who has lived in Rosary Road for 27 years, said: “We have seen drug activity and they meet up under our window to do an exchange.
“The prostitutes tout for business walking up and down the road.
“This has been going on for more than 20 years. When police put in CCTV a few years ago we saw less activity and the same happened during the pandemic but kerb crawling is on the up.
“It isn’t pleasant, you hear shouting and screaming and it makes me feel nervous. I don’t open my door if someone knocks at night. It has a detrimental effect on the area. It is disgusting.”
She believed drug dealers were using the Old Library Woods, owned by Norwich City Council, because it was isolated.
A 57-year-old man who has lived in Rosary Road for past seven years previously worked with Norfolk Police on tackling the issues surrounding prostitution including fitting cameras to pick up number plates of kerb crawlers.
He said: “The council and police don’t treat it as a priority. Their attitude is that sex workers are vulnerable, which is true. I close my windows and curtains at night so I don’t see it.
“In the summer months about 50pc of cars that drive up Rosary Road in the evenings are kerb crawlers. You see the same number plates return. It is relentless. Me and many other people in the area think there should be a crackdown on kerb crawlers .
“It makes the area feel unsafe and seedy at night.”
Historian Dr Emily Webber, who lives close to Old Library Wood with her two young children, said: “There is a problem with drug dealing and prostitutes frequent the area. We have to be included in police patrols. The noise wakes my children up and it is not nice for them to see needles.
“We have put a lot of effort as a community to make it a nicer space. The anti-social behavior has got worse.”
Claire Chapman, a 64-year-old retired Aviva employee from St Leonards Road who uses Old Library Wood to walk her dog, said: “The main issue is people littering. There is often a smell of dope. It is a shame. It is a question of changing people’s behavior.”
Anne-Marie Andersen, 49, from Rosary Road, said there were problems of people shouting in the park but police were working to make the area safe.
And Another homeowner, Jeremy Chitsiga, 53, said the problems of prostitution were inevitable because of its proximity to the train station and city centre.
Ben Price, Green Party city councillor for Thorpe Hamlet ward, said: “Green councillors have been contacted by people who have highlighted anti-social behavior has been creeping back into the park and at the last SNAP panel meeting I chose Old Library Wood as a community policy priority.
“The council have been positive and proactive by listening to the concerns of residents and developing pragmatic solutions through landscape management.
“People understand many of the anti-social problems they are experiencing stem from wider ingrained social issues.”
A city council spokeswoman said the authority worked closely with people living around Old Library Wood and the police to address any issues including improving lighting.
Norfolk Police looks to reassure people living by saying: “Tackling anti-social behavior in the Old Library Wood is a priority.”