A MAN living in a vicarage says he has “had enough” of anti-social behaviour on land next to his home – characterised by drug deals, constant littering, and prostitution.

Luke Dimech moved into the vicarage on the grounds of St Stephen’s Church in Bournemouth town centre in July last year with his sister and her two young children.

Behind the church building and a few feet away from Luke’s front door is a small plot of grassy land which has been described as a “heroin hotspot”.

According to Luke, the land is routinely visited by homeless people sleeping rough, drug dealers and sex workers with their clients.

Much activity takes place outside the bedroom window of Luke’s young nephew.

Bournemouth Echo: Land behind St Stephen's Church in Bournemouth town centreLand behind St Stephen's Church in Bournemouth town centre

Despite the land being church owned, Luke has at times taken it upon himself to clean up the area and has reported seeing needles, syringes and even human faeces.

After speaking to the Echo in January about the problem, Luke says nothing has changed in the months since and is out of ideas as how best to deal with the issues.

He said: “We noticed people coming into the land instantly after moving in which is why we put a lock on the gate. These aren’t usual homeless people who have issues but want to be helped, these are undesirables coming into a well-hidden area to do drugs and all sorts.

“The last time I spoke to trustees, I was told it has been going on for years, they doubt it would stop and advised us to move out if we couldn’t handle it. Why should we have to move because nobody can be bothered to change things? That isn’t fair in my eyes.

Bournemouth Echo: Anti-social behaviour reported behind St Stephen's Church in BournemouthAnti-social behaviour reported behind St Stephen's Church in Bournemouth

“I think it’s literally just a matter of making it difficult for people to enter the space. They either need to close off the entrances to the yard or actually do something with it and make it part of the church.

“I’ve even offered to maintain the grass myself if they’d close off access. Something needs to happen because we should feel safe in our own home and I’ve had enough.”

Luke added that Reverend Dr. Ian Terry, rector at St Stephen’s Church, is one of few members of the church to understand his concerns.

Bournemouth Echo: Around a dozen people crowd around a corner behind St Stephen's Church in BournemouthAround a dozen people crowd around a corner behind St Stephen's Church in Bournemouth

Rev. Terry said: “I am aware of concerns about anti-social behaviour taking place on a piece of land behind St Stephen’s Church, and our team is working closely with the police and residents to address these issues.

“In coordination with the local authority, we will be clearing the area and carrying out landscaping work in September, this will help to prevent unauthorised access to the land. Meanwhile, my colleagues and I very much sympathise with the concerns of this young family, whom we are actively supporting.

“As Christians we are committed to supporting those who are struggling with addiction. We are currently working on an initiative with the local authority to provide a community hub and drop-in centre in the parish.

“The centre will offer help to those dealing with a range of problems including substance abuse, and we are planning for it to open and start welcoming those who need support before Christmas.”