The Head of Community and Housing Services and the Community Safety Manager presented a report outlining proposed amendments to the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Policy.
The key aims of the policy were to set out how the Council would tackle anti-social behaviour in the Borough. In many cases, the Council could take action to address anti-social behaviour, but it was not always possible for the Council to respond. The policy introduced a risk assessment that placed the victim at the centre of the process. As part of the process any personal issues impacting on victims could be identified. A reassessment process had also been incorporated into the policy, to occur in the eighth week after the initial intervention, to enable officers to assess the impact that any action taken had had on the reported anti-social behaviour. An equality impact assessment would also be undertaken as part of the process. This would enable officers to identify issues impacting on the perpetrator, though this did not necessarily mean that action would not be taken.
There were various forms of intervention available for Officers to use when handling anti-social behaviour incidents. In the past there had sometimes been a focus on taking legal action. However, in some instances, mediation might be more effective. The choice of action that would need to be taken in response to incidents of anti-social behaviour would need to be assessed on a case by case basis.
After the presentation of the report the following points were discussed by Members:
· The changes that had been made to the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy and the legislative basis for these changes. Officers explained that amendments had been made to the policy to enable the Council to make use of powers set out in the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.
· The costs of mediation services that were available for the Council to access and how these costs would be covered. Officers advised that mediation would be available in cases where one of the parties was a Council tenant. The parties concerned would be expected to pay, though it was possible that the Council would have to cover the costs if mediation was considered necessary and the parties concerned were unable to pay.
· The circumstances in which mediation could be useful. Members were advised that anti-social behaviour cases often built up over time until there was an impasse. Mediation could help to address these cases more effectively than legal action and was less financially costly.
· The length of time required for effective mediation and the fact that this would be charged on an hourly basis. Officers advised that, based on consultation with Housing Associations, it had been found that the length of time required for mediation to work effectively varied, though it was likely that the Council would not permit mediation to last beyond two hours.
· The availability of shuttle mediation, whereby the different parties were met by mediators on separate occasions rather than in the same room at the same time. This could be helpful in cases where the parties did not want to be in the same room together.
· The need to provide training to relevant officers in respect of the changes to the policy and new powers available to the Council.
· The process of consultation that had been followed by Officers when drafting the updated policy. The Committee was informed that relevant senior officers had had an opportunity to comment on the content of the report. Partner organisations, such as Housing Associations operating in the Borough, had been consulted about the process they followed when tackling anti-social behaviour.
· The connection between this policy and the potential for the Council to issue Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to residents committing anti-social behaviour. Officers explained that the policy would support existing initiatives to introduce PSPOs. In the Officer Scheme of Delegation Officers had been delegated authority in respect of PSPOs and proposals to introduce these would start to be reported to Council for agreement in the autumn.
· The positive impact that changes to this policy would have on residents’ quality of life.
1) the draft ASB policyis adopted; and
2) the Head of Community and Housing Services be given delegated authority to update and amend the policy in line with any new legislation and guidance, as and when required.