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Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)

Policy and procedure summary

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ASB will be tackled not tolerated

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with the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group


Accessing our services This leaflet gives you information about Anti-Social Behaviour. If you would like a copy in large print, Braille, on audiotape or CD, please contact the Social Inclusion Team on 0161 474 2860, email: inclusion@stockporthomes. org, text: 07891 949 399 or fax: 0161 474 2869.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Contents Introduction

4

ASB Definitions

6

ASB Types

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Stockport Homes’ Approach

10

Legal Powers

11

Making a Complaint

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Measures to Deal with complaints

13

Witness Support

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Dedicated Witness Support Officer

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What Happens Next?

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Further action – The ASB Team

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Referrals for Noise Monitoring Equipment or Lend-a-cam Scheme

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Professional Witnesses

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Sustainable Communities

27

Confidentiality and Data Protection

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Contact Us

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Introduction This leaflet explains how Stockport Homes will tackle Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) on its estates by working with partners and by its procedures, attitudes and general approach. Stockport Homes is a member of the Safer Stockport Partnership (SSP) and is committed to taking positive action in conjunction with our partners, to deal with all forms of ASB. Stockport Homes is a signatory to the Government’s Respect Standard for Housing Management and is committed to ensuring our services for tackling ASB exceed those outlined within the standard. Stockport recognise that all residents have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their home and that, left unchallenged, ASB can have a significant negative impact on the lives of residents. Equally every resident has a responsibility not to interfere with their neighbour’s right to the peaceful enjoyment of their home.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Introduction Stockport Homes recognises that the causes and effects of ASB are wide ranging and can affect all members of the community, not just Stockport Homes’ customers. Therefore Stockport Homes will always seek to work in partnership with other agencies to ensure that all the measures available are used effectively to tackle ASB problems regardless of tenure. Stockport Homes recognises the relationship between ASB and the demand for housing. It also recognises the impact that any actions to combat ASB can have on the sustainability of communities and neighbourhoods. Stockport Homes does not operate in isolation and this policy has been written to take account of obligations imposed by national legislation and other relevant local strategies and policies.

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ASB Definitions Stockport Homes defines ASB as:

any act which caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator.

(Crime and Disorder Act 1998)

anything which causes or is likely to cause a nuisance annoyance or disturbance to any person in the local area applies to members of the household, visitors and pets.

(Stockport Council’s Tenancy Agreement 2004)

conduct which is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person; and directly or indirectly relates to or affects the housing management function of a relevant landlord; or consists of or involves using or threatening to use housing accommodation owned or managed by a relevant landlord for an unlawful purpose.

(Housing Act 1996 as amended by the ASB Act 2003)

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


ASB Definitions Stockport Homes defines a race / hate related incident as:

“

any type of behaviour or action that is carried out against another person on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, social class or age. All reports of racial harassment and hate related behaviour received by Stockport Homes are sensitively investigated. Stockport Homes treat all racist or other hate incidents very seriously and will take prompt and effective action wherever possible. Stockport Homes has a separate but complimentary policy and procedure for dealing with such incidents.

“

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ASB Definitions Stockport Homes define domestic abuse as:

“

any violence between family members, anyone who has been in a relationship, whenever or wherever the violence occurs. It may include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse. Stockport Homes will consider the use of enforcement action to protect individuals suffering domestic violence / abuse.

“

Stockport Homes has a separate but complimentary policy and procedure for dealing with such incidents.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


ASB Types Stockport Homes expects its customers to be good neighbours and understand and tolerate people’s different lifestyles. Examples of ASB include, but are not limited to: • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

racist behaviour or language; harassment or intimidation; using or threatening to use violence; drug abuse; noise / loud music; rowdy drunken behaviour; arguing and door slamming; using abusive or insulting words; damaging or threatening to damage other people’s property; dog barking or fouling; graffiti and vandalism; rubbish dumping / fly-tipping; nuisance vehicles; and condition of property.

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Stockport Homes' Approach Every Stockport Homes customer signs a tenancy agreement, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of Stockport Homes and its customers. Stockport Homes expect all our customers to fully comply with all the conditions of tenancy in particular those that relate to ASB, nuisance and harassment. Stockport Homes also expects that a customers family members, relatives, pets or visitors and lodgers at the property also comply with tenancy conditions. Failure to do so may result in legal action being taken against them and / or the tenant. As a responsible landlord, Stockport Homes is committed to taking positive action, in conjunction to taking positive action with our partners to deal with all forms of ASB.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Legal Powers The rights and obligations contained within the Tenancy Agreement will be emphasised during the sign-up interview for each new tenancy. The policy in relation to ASB will be explained in detail and the standards of behaviour expected from customers in Stockport will be clearly outlined. Stockport Homes is committed to tackling all forms of ASB regardless of tenure and will also take action against person causing ASB even if they are not a Stockport Homes customer.

Making a Complaint If customers and private residents are suffering from any kind of ASB they are encouraged to report the problem as soon as possible to the Area Housing Office. Complaints can be made in the following ways: • in person; • in writing;

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Making a Complaint • • • •

by telephone; by email; text message; and fax.

Complaints can also be made anonymously, however this may restrict the amount of investigation and action that can be taken. Any complaints made will be treated in the strictest of confidence. The identity of any complainant will not be revealed unless consent is given.

Measures to Deal with Complaints When a complaint of ASB is made Stockport Homes will: • Record the complaint and allocate the case to a named Investigating Officer • Open a case file and complete an initial report to establish the nature of the ASB 12

Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Measures to Deal with Complaints • Assess the type of ASB being complained of and apply a category • CAT A – URGENT for example, race / hate crime / threats or use of violence • CAT B – PERSISTENT NUISANCE for example, noisy neighbours • CAT C – NON URGENT for example, untidy garden • Complete a complainant Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM) to establish and identify vulnerable complainants and apply a vulnerability category • Level 1 – High vulnerability • Level 2 – Medium vulnerability • Level 3 – Low vulnerability • Refer all CAT A cases and all Level 1 vulnerability cases to the specialist ASB Team who will contact the complainant in the case within 24 hours • Acknowledge all other complaints in writing within two working days • Contact level 2 complainants in 48 hours to arrange an interview • Contact level 3 complainants within five working days to arrange an interview Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary

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Measures to Deal with Complaints • Develop an action and care plan in agreement with the complainant to investigate the problem, and agree a level of support and contact • Refer all Level 1 complainants to the Witness Support Officer for additional support • Always offer mediation as a possible solution to the problem unless the case is a CAT A • If mediation is refused investigate the problem and take appropriate action Stockport Homes will arrange for an interpreter for people for whom English is not their first language. In all cases, an account of what has happened so far will be taken to help Stockport Homes decide on the appropriate action. Stockport Homes can get this from: • the complainant; • any witnesses they identify; and / or • other agencies such as Wardens, Police Officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) which could include photographs, a sound or video recording, for example, CCTV.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Measures to deal with Complaints When the Investigating Officer interviews the complainant a victim care and action plan will be completed setting out what will happen over the next few days and what support will be put into place.

Witness Support Stockport Homes recognises the importance of supporting those people who are experiencing ASB, and will provide support to complainants throughout the case. The level of support given will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual and the circumstances of the case, and will be agreed with the complainant from the outset. In every case, each complainant will be provided with a named contact who will agree and maintain a level of contact at the start of the case and keep them fully informed throughout the case.

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Witness Support Other support measures available include: • linking complainants to other witnesses; • completing a risk assessment of the security of the complainant’s home and where appropriate improving security by, for example providing door chains, peep-holes, security lights and / or fire-proof letter boxes; • working with the police to install “panic alarms” to access a police response by the touch of a button; and • temporary relocation in extreme circumstances / additional social needs points in extreme cases.

Dedicated Witness Support Officer Stockport Homes is committed to providing excellent support to witnesses and will seek to use all the tools available to ensure that witnesses feel safe and secure when coming forward to give evidence. The evidence of witnesses cannot be underestimated, especially in cases involving formal enforcement action. 16

Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Dedicated Witness Support Officer Therefore, it is essential that witnesses feel supported before, during and after the case is dealt with. Witness support is a collective responsibility. However, Stockport Homes recognises that some witnesses may be more vulnerable than others and therefore need more intensive one-to-one support. Stockport Homes has a dedicated Witness Support Officer who is located within the ASB Team whose role is to provide intensive support to those witnesses most in need. The Witness Support Officer will carry out needs assessments for witnesses referred to the service and agree and establish individual support plans which meet their support needs. Support offered includes daily one-to-one contact during office hours or at an evening or weekend if required, support through the court process including pre-court visits and moral support at any hearings. Evidence Gathering In order to progress the case the Investigating Officer may need to gather further evidence and contact other witnesses or agencies. The Investigating Officer will also ask the complainant to keep a log of any further incidents in an incident diary. Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary

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Dedicated Witness Support Officer A diary is an essential tool and enables Stockport Homes to assess the extent of and to help decide how best to tackle the problem. It is important that diaries are completed as soon as possible after the incident has occurred and includes as much detail as possible. In very severe cases where Court action becomes necessary, or is used as a final resort, diaries may be able to be produced as evidence. Incident diaries need to be reviewed regularly and the Investigating Officer dealing with the case will agree timescales with the complainant to collect and review them. If for any reason the complainant is unable to complete diaries, alternative methods of collecting information can be used. For example: • • • •

video tapes / audio tapes; dictaphones; verbal reporting; or interpreters.

All information supplied to Stockport Homes will be treated in the strictest of confidence.The Investigating Officer will agree with the complainant how often they contact them to keep them updated on the progress of the case. 18

Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Dedicated Witness Support Officer The victim care and action plan will be signed by both the Investigating Officer and the complainant and a copy given to the complainant for their records.

What Happens Next? Once the Investigating Officer has completed the investigation a number of things could happen, these include: • approaching the perpetrator and warning them about their behaviour; • considering legal action; • referring the case to the ASB Team; or • making referrals to other agencies such as the Police, Social Services or the Family Intervention Project. It is important that the complainant understands that however upset and angered they may be by the behaviour of the other person, the complainant does not try to retaliate in any way. Any such action could jeopardise a case and may even result in Stockport Homes needing to take action against them. Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary

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What Happens Next? In most cases it will also be necessary to interview the alleged perpetrator at an early stage. This will enable the Investigating Officer to establish the full facts and will give the alleged perpetrator the opportunity to comment on the allegations. In some cases making the alleged perpetrator aware of the problems they are causing will be enough to resolve the problems. A letter will be sent to the alleged perpetrator informing them that complaints have been received and inviting them to an interview. The interview with the alleged perpetrator may have one of the following outcomes: • • • •

acceptance of the allegations; denial; ignorance of a problem; or non-attendance.

After the interview and throughout of the case the Investigating Officer will evaluate the position in line with unfolding events. At this stage, having interviewed both the complainant and perpetrator the Officer will assess the case so far and decide on the appropriate course of action.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


What Happens Next? The options are: • take no further action and formally close the case as the initial action so far has resolved matters, there is no case to answer or the case has been referred to mediation; • monitor the case and review the situation every 14 days and if no further problems occur, close the case; • continue with the investigation to obtain more evidence; • issue a warning letter; or • refer the case the ASB Team for legal action. Whatever the outcome an appropriate letter will be sent to all parties involved. Contact will be maintained with complainants and witnesses throughout this process so that they are kept up-to-date and feel fully supported. If at any time during this process an incident occurs that deems the case to be serious / urgent, the case will be referred to the ASB Team immediately.

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Further Action – the ASB Team The ASB Team has been established to deal with serious and / or difficult cases of ASB and nuisance. The team will take referrals when all possible local attempts to resolve the problems have been exhausted or when a case is very serious to start with. The aim of the team is to: • • • • •

carry out more detailed investigations on referred cases; identify potential legal or other remedies to problems; prepare and run Court Cases with Legal Services; support victims of ASB and nuisance; and provide guidance, information advice and support, where required, to Area Housing staff in the early stages of a case.

The team also works closely with other agencies involved including the Police, Social Services, and Community Safety. When a case is referred to the ASB Team the ASB Officer will carry out a further investigation and assess the best course of action to resolve the case. This may be done alone, or in conjunction with the ASB and Caretaking Services Manager, Area Manager or Legal Team. 22

Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Further Action – the ASB Team The ASB Officer will often: • work closely with other staff in carrying out investigations; • provide advice and support to complainants; • gather evidence, including the detailed witness statements for use in legal action; • liaise with other agencies who are or may need to be involved in the case; • liaise with the Police to exchange information and gather evidence; • review problems and considering the range of actions available to resolve them; • work with Legal Staff to prepare cases for court; and • support witnesses throughout the investigation of referred cases, the court process and beyond. Once the ASB Officer has made an assessment of the case appropriate action will be taken. The actions, which include fast track responses in serious cases, are incremental in nature, with the emphasis on bringing about real changes and improvement in the behaviour of those who commit ASB.

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Further Action – the ASB Team The actions that can be considered may be but are not limited to: • approaching the perpetrator and discussing the problem behaviour; • warning letters; • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC); • Parental Control Contracts (PCC); • Environmental Health Action for Statutory Nuisance; • injunctions; • undertakings; • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs); • Demoted Tenancies; • Possession Proceedings; • Suspension of Right-to-Buy; • extension of Introductory Tenancies; • use of Professional Witnesses / Surveillance; • Dispersal Orders (via the Police); and • Closure of Premises Orders.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Referrals for Noise Monitoring Equipment or Lend-a-cam Scheme In some cases it may be appropriate to gather further evidence by way of installing surveillance equipment. The ASB Team has noise monitoring equipment available along with CCTV camera systems. If the Investigating Officer feels this is appropriate a referral to the ASB Team for this equipment will be completed.

Professional Witnesses In some cases of ASB, residents may be reluctant to provide evidence. They may fear repercussions either to themselves or to members of their family. Whilst Stockport Homes encourages and supports residents to come forward, it accepts that in certain circumstances if there is a health and safety risk for example, it may be unreasonable to expect them to provide evidence in support Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary

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Professional Witnesses of court action. The protection of witnesses will be given priority. Professional witnesses have two meanings. Firstly Stockport Homes can employ the services of a surveillance company to gather evidence of ASB with a view to using that evidence to support legal action. Alternatively, Stockport Homes may use professional officers, such as Housing or Police Officers, to provide hearsay evidence in civil proceedings. For example, a professional officer can give evidence about what he or she has been told by a resident. It is important to remember, however, that although hearsay evidence is admissible in court it is always better to have direct evidence from witnesses where possible.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Sustainable Communities Stockport Homes is committed to creating and preserving sustainable communities. Sustainable communities are where there are decent homes and neighbourhoods, a vibrant economy to provide jobs, engagement and consultation with local people, groups and businesses, safe and healthy environments, with well designed and maintained open spaces, good quality local public services, places where people choose to live and want to stay. Tackling ASB is just one essential part of creating sustainable estates. In tackling ASB, Stockport Homes will be mindful of the consequences that possession proceedings may have on creating sustainable estates. Stockport Homes recognises that eviction is a useful tool to tackle ASB but wherever possible will seek to take action against perpetrators that controls their behaviour, allows them to remain in their homes, yet offers protection to the community, promotes social inclusion and prevents homelessness.

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Confidentiality and Data Protection The identity of complainants, witnesses or victims will not, under any circumstances be revealed to any other person (including other agencies) without first obtaining permission unless child protection issues are suspected. In these cases Safeguarding Policies and Procedures will be followed. Where appropriate, it will be necessary to share information with partners (For example, the Police) for the purposes of prevention and detection of Crime and Disorder (Crime and Disorder Act 1998). When the information is supplied by a known individual, that person’s consent will be sought before the information is disclosed to any other party.

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Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Contact Us Out-of-hours reporting number  0161 474 3840 Email: antisocial.behaviour@stockport.gov.uk (For reporting only - in an emergency where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress, please contact Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on either 999 or 0161 872 5050. You can also report ASB on-line at www.stockporthomes.org To contact Stockport Homes to report ASB during office hours, please contact your Area Housing Office on the numbers below: East Area Housing Office  0161 474 4372 Fax: 0161 406 8377 West Area Housing Office  0161 474 4371 Fax: 0161 477 4879

Other contacts ASB Team  0161 218 1498 Fax: 0161 480 4358 Domestic Violence Police (Domestic Violence Unit)  0161 483 2870 Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary

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Stockport Women’s Aid  0161 477 4271 Victim Support and Witness Service  0161 477 9597 National Victim Support Helpline  0845 3030 900 Noise Pollution (Environmental Health)  0161 474 4284 Dog Warden  0161 474 4207 Empty Properties (private sector)  0161 474 2688 Text phone (for people with hearing difficulties)  0161 474 3336 Police (always 999 in emergencies)  0161 872 5050 Crimestoppers  0800 555 111 (freephone) Citizens Advice Bureau  0870 120 4040 Youth Offending Team  0161 476 2876 30

Anti-Social Behaviour - Policy and procedure summary


Notes

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ur o i v a h e AN B l C ia WE c T o U S R i t E TO An ETH I G P TO AM

ST

Ref: 782/February 2011

ASB policy and procedure summary 2011  

ASB will be tackled not tolerated RESPECT Cus tomer Appro Give respect Get respect J a r g o n F re e v e d with the Social Landlords Crime...

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