Statement of Policy on Anti-Social Behaviour
Date policy approved February 2017?
Date policy to be reviewed February 2020
Table of Contents
Policy statement 3
Aims and Expectations 3
HOW WE DEFINE AND RESPOND TO ASB
Definition of Anti-Social Behaviour 4
The Anti-Social Behaviour Team 4
Working in partnership 5
Types of Anti-Social Behaviour 5
Ways to report anti-social behaviour 5
Response Times 5
What the Council will not consider to be anti-social behaviour 6
Harassment/Hate crime 6
Domestic Abuse 6
Protection of staff 7
Safeguarding children, young people and adults 8
Equality Act 2010 8
Vulnerable People 8
HOW WE TACKLE ASB
Tenant’s Responsibilities 8
The approach the council will take when tackling anti-social behaviour 9
Early intervention 9
Legal remedies available 10
ASB Procedure 10
Housing allocations policy 10
False or malicious complaints 11
CONFIDENTIALITY AND CONTACT
Confidentiality and Data Protection 11
Community Trigger 11
Performance monitoring 1
Closing cases 12
MONITORING AND LINKS
Monitoring and review of the policy 12
Complaints, comments and compliments 12
Legal framework 12
Links to other policies 13
This policy outlines the Anti-Social Behaviour Team’s response to dealing with anti-social behaviour (ASB) which impacts on residents within the Borough of Sandwell. This policy complements other departmental policies of Sandwell MBC [the council] which detail how that department will tackle anti-social behaviour impacting upon their service. The policy has been updated to take into account the powers introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.
We are committed to ensuring that all residents enjoy their right to peace, quiet and security in their neighbourhood. We recognise that ASB can have a severe effect on the wellbeing of residents and that we have an interest to take action to minimise it. We are dedicated to looking after neighbourhoods, making sure they are safe, sustainable and cohesive places where people are happy and proud to live. We take all reports of ASB, domestic abuse and hate crime very seriously and will investigate incidents reported to us. We will work in partnership with other agencies, such as the police, to prevent and tackle such behaviour with a robust approach.
Aims and Expectations
· We will take anti-social behaviour seriously within the borough. This means that when anti-social behaviour is reported to the council we will endeavour to act promptly and in line with our procedures.
· We will encourage residents to report anti-social behaviour by making sure the reporting process is clear and easy to access, and that residents are kept informed of progress on a case.
· We will carry out risk assessments on victims, underpinning the victim centred approach. Victims identified as requiring additional support will be referred to a Victim Support Officer.
· We will, where appropriate, take action against individuals engaging in anti-social behaviour in the borough including residents, leaseholders and owner occupiers.
· We will, where appropriate, work with perpetrators of anti-social behaviour, and where possible change their behaviour.
· We will seek out good practice through attendance at regional and national seminars regarding anti-social behaviour, and will invest in the professional development of staff to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to deal effectively with anti-social behaviour in the borough.
· We will regularly review the effectiveness of the council’s practices in dealing with anti-social behaviour.
· We will monitor customer satisfaction with the service by carrying out a survey of all customers when their complaint of anti-social behaviour has been closed.
· We will, where dissatisfied customers are identified, contact them to understand and learn from their experience and implement changes to practices where appropriate.
· We will identify and work with partners to deal with anti-social behaviour including encouraging other landlords to take appropriate action.
· We will utilise an early intervention approach to resolve anti-social behaviour complaints as quickly as possible. Timely contact will be made with victims and, where appropriate, with alleged perpetrators to determine the best outcome.
· We will provide regular updates to communities about actions taken to tackle anti-social behaviour. In particular publicising enforcement actions such as anti-social behaviour Injunctions and other legal actions to encourage victims to report anti-social behaviour and as a deterrent to others.
Definition of Anti-Social Behaviour
The council has adopted the definition of anti-social behaviour as detailed in section 2 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Anti-social behaviour means behaviour by a person which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person or conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance affecting residential accommodation.
There are many forms of anti-social behaviour that cause nuisance, annoyance, harassment, alarm or distress. This may or may not amount to a criminal act. What is important is the effect of the behaviour on our communities as a whole. Anti-social behaviour can impact on ‘any person’ which includes not only tenants and owner occupiers but also workers and visitors to our communities.
The council will place reported incidents of anti-social behaviour into categories, assessing both the risk and seriousness of the alleged behaviour, and the impact it is having on the victim. If an incident is made up of several types of anti-social behaviour, the most serious part of the complaint will be dealt with first.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Team
Sandwell has a team of specially trained officers who deal with all aspects of anti-social behaviour. The Anti-Social Behaviour Team will work closely with the Sandwell Local Teams across the borough.
Working in partnership
Partnership working is vital in order to minimise anti-social behaviour and tackle it when it does occur. We will play a full part as a key member of the Safer Sandwell Partnership Local Police and Crime Board.
We will work closely with a variety of partners, for example:
· West Midlands Police
· West Midlands Fire Service
· Victim Support
· Registered Social Landlords
· Rights and Equality Sandwell
· National Probation Service
· Community Rehabilitation Services
· Voluntary Sector
Information will be shared with partners such as the police, in line with existing protocols.
Types of Anti-Social Behaviour
Personal- behaviour that targets a particular individual or specific group or is aimed at having an impact on a particular individual rather than a community at large
Place- individuals or incidents that cause trouble, annoyance, inconvenience, offence or suffering to people in the local community in general, rather than targeted at an individual
Environmental- incidents and inconsiderate actions which impact on the surroundings including the natural, built and social environments
Ways to report anti-social behaviour
· Online via the SMBC website
· In person or via a third party
· By telephone, or in writing
· Via CCTV and concierge [where the service is provided]
· Via other agencies
We will assess the risk and impact the anti-social behaviour is having on the victim and respond appropriately. The timescales set out are an indication only of response times.
Initial contact within one working day:
The council will endeavour to contact the victim within 24 working hours where very serious complaints are made and where risk to the victim is considered to be high. This is our highest classification of anti-social behaviour where the council believes that a person may be in danger and urgent action is required to protect them. Some examples are given below:
· Hate crime
· Physical violence/ threats of violence
Contact within five working days:
Initial contact within 5 working days, while these can be serious complaints, risk to the victim may not be considered to be high. Some examples are given below:
· Non-threatening verbal abuse
· Alcohol/ drugs related incidents
· Misuse of shared areas and public space
· Pets and animal nuisance
· Nuisance from vehicles
· Litter, rubbish, fly tipping
What the council will not consider to be anti-social behaviour
The following will generally not be considered to be anti-social behaviour: [this is not an exhaustive list]
· Normal domestic everyday noise occurring at reasonable times and not for excessive periods of time
· Cooking smells
· Parking issues, where there are no parking regulations breached.
We take harassment/ hate crime in any form against any member of our community extremely seriously. Such conduct can have a very traumatic effect on the victim and a divisive effect on our communities.
Hate crime involves any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, gender identity, race, religion or faith and sexual orientation. However, any incident that is motivated by bias or prejudice against a person’s identity can be considered a hate crime.
The definition of domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour or abuse between those aged 16 years or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
Domestic abuse is a serious issue that can have a devastating impact upon the victim, their family and the wider community regardless of race, geography or social background. It is recognised that domestic abuse affects both adults and children, and it has a detrimental effect on their safety, security, health and wellbeing.
The Domestic Abuse Strategic Partnership has a pivotal role in bringing together partners and agencies to work in a coordinated and planned way to address domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse may fall within the definition of anti-social behaviour, each case will be considered on its facts. We will be mindful of the needs of the victim to ensure they are supported. The use of enforcement tools will be used by the council and or other agencies in appropriate cases (e.g. to protect the victim and or impact upon the wider community).
Protection of staff
The council will take firm action if council staff, agents or its workforce are threatened, abused or subjected to anti-social behaviour. This includes legal action, where appropriate, and referral to the police for investigation.
The council will endeavour to carry out a risk assessment for each complainant, to identify if support is needed, and whether a referral needs to be made to a relevant support agency. Services can be delivered either internally or in partnership with others to provide support to the complainant.
If support needs are identified for perpetrators, where appropriate, the council may offer support to assist with behaviour change. This will be dependent on the facts of the case.
Where legal action is required the council will ensure that victims and witnesses are well prepared for court and where required the Victim Support Officer will attend court with them.
Examples of the support available could include;
· Victim and Witness Support
· Intensive Family Support
· Support from Adult Services
· Support from Children’s Services
· Substance misuse support
· Referrals for mental health support
· Support from Adult Social Care
· Voluntary sector support
Safeguarding children, young people and adults
Safeguarding is everyone’s business and we all have a part to play in protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. The council is a member of Sandwell Safeguarding Children Board, and Sandwell Safeguarding Adult Board and Sandwell Health and Wellbeing Board. We actively participate in multi-agency arrangements to safeguard children, young people and adults.
In dealing with anti-social behaviour, hate crime and incidents, full consideration will be given to our safeguarding responsibilities.
Equality Act 2010
The council will strive to meet its obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
The council will strive to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty, having due regard to the need to—
a) Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010;
b) Advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it;
c) Foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
We recognise that some residents may have vulnerabilities, including those with learning or physical conditions, mental health illness or other support needs. The needs of the vulnerable person will be handled appropriately, and if deemed necessary, in partnership with other agencies.
While recognising an individual may have a potential disability or vulnerabilities the council will not ignore instances of ASB as it has a responsibility to the wider community and will balance these competing factors. Legal action will be pursued if it is considered necessary and proportionate.
The council has expectations that all residents regardless of tenure, including owner occupiers will show respect and tolerance towards their neighbours. Council tenants have specific obligations that are set out in their tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant. Tenants are responsible for the behaviour of those who live with them and their visitors. Action will be taken against council tenants whose conduct impacts upon other council tenants, residents and the wider community. Where a council tenancy is breached due to anti-social behaviour the council will utilise the most appropriate tool available based on the circumstances of the case.
The approach the council will take when tackling anti-social behaviour
The council’s approach to tackling anti-social behaviour focuses on prevention, early intervention, diversion, support and enforcement; however the approach taken is determined by the individual facts of each case.
The action that the council takes will be reasonable and proportionate to the type of anti-social behaviour that has been reported.
The council want to create a climate where people feel confident in coming forward with information. However, where complainants wish to remain anonymous, the council will still investigate the complaint but the remedies available may be limited as a result. The council may still share any anonymous complaints with partner agencies where crimes or safeguarding issues are identified.
The council recognises that prevention is an important element in tackling anti-social behaviour in the borough. Where appropriate the council will work with internal and external partners to prevent anti-social behaviour from occurring.
In respect of council tenants the tenancy conditions will set out the anti-social behaviour clauses and the behaviour that will constitute a breach of the tenancy conditions. All new tenants will be given an introductory tenancy that lasts for an initial twelve months and which can be extended to eighteen months where there are concerns regarding their conduct. As part of our prevention work the council will also undertake/support school safeguarding talks, ward safety checks, diversionary activities and communication campaigns to prevent anti-social behaviour from occurring.