L Warden presented the update on anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Hollinghurst asked who a person should contact if they see drug dealing taking place. L Warden confirmed that the Police should be contacted in those circumstances, we would recommend the 101 non-emergency number or report it to the local safer neighbourhood teams and they will have that on their radar in terms of gathering intelligence. We do have a form on our website for reporting anti-social behaviour and we would recommend people to use that for anything and if it’s something we can’t deal with we will pass it onto the Police when we have our monthly multi agency meetings. The meeting looks at specific cases and is an operations meeting with the Police, drug and alcohol organisations, other housing providers and housing staff. That intelligence is gathered at that stage and passed to the Joint Action Group who operate at a more strategic level. We would definitely recommend any residents to report any issues that they are experiencing with residents or neighbours or in the community because that information allows us to build a better picture of what’s happening out there and work out what resources we need to put in what places to try to help resolve them.
Cllr Pringle said that quite often anti-social behaviour is generated by domestic abuse where the party who’s being abused doesn’t wish to take criminal proceedings or has other reasons for example being in fear and where the tenancy is in the name of the suspected abuser is there a mechanism for the tenancy being transferred to the victim. Also if there is recognition of this as an issue and if there is a way of resolving it. L Warden replied that we have to deal very sensitively with any potential domestic abuse situations that are going on within the home. Where we get complaints from neighbours about an incident that’s taking place. Where the perpetrator is a tenant our tenancy agreement does allow us to take appropriate action, which may include serving notice and asking them to leave the home. We will need to provide evidence and we need support from the victim to be able to do that. We would not normally look to remove one person and give the tenancy to another party, we would end that tenancy entirely and we would then take it on a case by case basis, the individual who is the victim would be linked to a support worker or one of the external agencies that deal with supporting and empowering victims. It might be that particular property is not suitable for them anyway and they may be offered new accommodation elsewhere. Maybe putting them in a temporary refuge, might be something we would offer to help, but it would be on an individual case by case basis, as there are a lot of complexities and we also identify some people don’t wish to come forward so we may have complaints about issues going on, but if someone isn’t confident enough to put forward a complaint or take it further, it’s about trying to give them as much support as possible to give them options but it’s their choice at the end of the day.
Cllr Pringle said it is recognised that sometimes having the same network and particularly children being able to stay at the same school is a very important that people recognise that they would get that support if they were to make those choices as part of supporting people in those choices. If they recognise they would be supported in remaining in what they viewed as their home, even though they weren’t on the paperwork, that would be a very useful thing empowering the victim and it would be useful if people understood if that was one of the options that would be available. It might help them to actually make the report. L Warden said that it was something we could consider but it’s very rarely a situation we come across in all honesty, it tends to be the victim is the tenant and the partner has moved in and then it’s about getting the partner out of the property. They are the tenant and entitled to remain there. New legislation bought in last year which we’ve already adopted introduced if someone is fleeing domestic violence they will not lose their security of tenure. We offer flexible tenancy and there is a risk that when someone moves into a property they begin a flexible tenancy, if the reason they are moving is because they are fleeing domestic abuse, we will ensure they remain a secure tenant. They will not lose that security by having to move and that’s something that all housing providers should be providing.
Cllr Adeleke said that in his Parish Council role, they always have Police reports where anti-social behaviour is an agenda item, we’ve always identified anti-social behaviour with young kids, this has gone on for a long time. In the last 2 years or so grown-ups are more guilty than the youngsters, is that the same with our tenants and if that is the case, where the children are responsible for anti-social behaviour, you can’t evict them or take them to court, is it the parents you prosecute. L Warden confirmed there is a mixture, we do have problems with young people but we work with Youth Connections and there any many referral processes to support them with diversionary activities. We do take action against the parents if their children are causing anti-social behaviour within the neighbourhood, part of the tenancy agreement says it’s them or any other member of the household. We have acceptable behaviour contracts so we would draw up one of these for a child and a separate one for the parent, to highlight the behaviours we would expect of them to improve the issues that are being experienced. We have one case in the last year where we’ve ended the tenancy of a parent of a child who had severe anti-social behaviour issues and the parent wasn’t taking responsibility to prevent that. We did a lot of work with the parent trying to engage them with activities as well the child, but because they weren’t engaging with us there was no alternative but to protect the residents by taking further action. That is always our last resort, very few cases end up in eviction, we always try to put everything we can in place in the meantime to resolve the issues. The Corporate Anti-social Behaviour team do deal with groups of children hanging around, it’s then about trying to find more positive activities, a lot of the time it’s not that they’re causing major issues, it’s a perception. There are additional powers we can use to protect from street drinking etc, there’s quite a lot of options, it’s just choosing the right action to take that’s proportionate for the incident, to try and work out how best to resolve that as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Chairman reminded Members to be diligent, there has been a few times where every single agenda item, this is not aimed at you, we have said this is the close of the agenda and later on someone puts their hands up. We are at 9.15pm and the officers have been here since 9am, so we just need to be more structured in our questioning please. Not aimed specifically at you, a number of perpetrators at the Committee tonight.
Cllr Oguchi asked if the ASB policy was just for housing or is it for anti-social behaviour outside properties, on the streets and wanted to know how that works in Dacorum. L Warden replied that the new policy covers three responsibilities that we have as a local authority, one is our role as a social landlord, also our role with the Community Safety Partnership and that includes anything under the Crime and Disorder Act, additionally anything that’s environmental as well, so it covers all three areas, so that might include things like graffiti, fly-tipping, etc. Additionally we have powers in relation to community safety, like drugs, ASB, etc that are outside a property, which we will work with our partners to resolve.