NEW laws have been used to shut down an illegal crack house, ending two years of torment for residents in a North-East street.

The house in Falkirk Street, Thornaby, will be sealed off for the next three months under anti-social behaviour laws.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the shutdown, including the property's 26-year-old tenant.

Police said the terraced house had become a haven for local drug addicts and prostitutes.

Neighbours have expressed their relief at the closure.

One neighbour said over the past two years a constant stream of visitors had been seen going into the property, occupied by a man believed to be from the Billingham area.

The neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: "Sometimes you'd see up to 30 people a day going in there, cars pulling up at all hours.

"It got so bad that some of the older residents stopped putting their bins out in the back alley because they were afraid of seeing addicts out there. A lot of this was happening during the day and there is a primary school just round the corner.

"You could certainly say residents on the street are pleased to see the back of it."

Three men and two women have been arrested and released on bail.

The closure order, granted by Teesside Magistrates' Courts on Sunday, was carried out under the new Anti-Social Behaviour Act, which allows police to seal off properties associated with serious public disorder.

The shutdown is part of Operation Crack Down, a national three-month initiative to clamp down on Class A drugs.

Yesterday, the Government announced figures for the first month of the operation.

According to the Home Office, in the first four weeks police across the UK have seized more than 20 kilos of cocaine and closed more than 40 crack houses.

Nearly 1,000 drug dealers have been arrested and £900,000 of assets have been seized.