We take reports of anti-social behaviour seriously and will work with you and others to resolve problems and prevent them happening again. We recognise that taking legal action may be necessary in some cases.
The government defines anti-social behaviour as:
"behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household (Section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998)"
It applies to people living or working in the local area, including people who own or rent their homes and our staff.
Examples of anti-social behaviour include:
There are several ways how you or your representative can report anti-social behaviour:
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We will work with other organisations including the police, housing associations and local groups to prevent anti-social behaviour and deal with its effects. Your Tenancy Agreement will clearly state the behaviour expected from our tenants.
If you feel able to, and where the situation is not too serious, you should approach the other people involved to discuss the matter. This allows everyone to understand the different points of view and often leads to the problem being sorted out without any involvement by the council.
If you find the other party is being unreasonable, or you feel unable to approach them, please contact us and we will look at other ways to resolve the problem.
Many problems are simple to sort out, for example overgrown gardens and abandoned vehicles. In these cases we will work with the person involved to solve them.
Where cases are not as simple, for example those which involve nuisance or harassment, we will talk to you in more detail before starting an investigation. Depending on the nature of the complaint, a member of the Community Development Team or you Housing Officer will discuss the best course of action with you.
We may send you incident log sheets so you can write down what has happened, or arrange an appointment to discuss the matter in full. The meeting can take place at your home, or somewhere else if you prefer.
Where the matter is serious, such as an imminent threat to someone's safety, investigations will start within 1 working day of you reporting it to us. We will ask you questions about the problems, and may need to speak to other people in your household who have been affected. We may decide at this point to write or contact the person alleged to be causing you the nuisance.
Together we'll agree a Nuisance Action Plan, stating what you should do and what we will do to sort out the problem. From then on, we will be working in partnership with you, keeping to the actions we jointly agreed. The Action Plan will include contact details of the Officer investigating your complaints. It will also include details of other agencies that may be able to help, for example the Police.
Where the problem is caused by a neighbour dispute and you do not feel comfortable about talking it through with the other party, we can arrange mediation. Mediation is a voluntary way of resolving disputes without going to court. It is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to more lengthy, costly and confrontational approaches to dispute resolution.
The mediation process involves an expert advisor who can help all parties reach a fair conclusion to the problem.
Before we can start taking action we will need evidence from you or other people who have witnessed the behaviour. Examples include:
When we have collected evidence we will decide what to do next. We will visit the perpetrator to hear their side of the story, and where appropriate tell them that their actions are a breach of their tenancy agreement.
We will respond with a mixture of intervention and enforcement. Where needed, we will take appropriate legal action to make sure that the anti-social behaviour ends.
There are several steps we can take to prevent further incidents of anti-social behaviour such as taking legal action and, as a last resort, evicting someone behaving anti-socially from their home. If we need to go to court to take legal action, we may ask witnesses or victims to give evidence. This is not always needed, but will strengthen our case. We will talk this over with you first, to make sure you are comfortable doing so. Other actions we might take include:
Any legal action taken by us will be tailored to the individual circumstances of the case and may be taken in partnership with other agencies, police and other organisations.
We know that it may be difficult for you to report an incident and where required, to give evidence. We will give you (and other witnesses) as much support and guidance as possible.
We will keep you informed of developments in your case at all times. Senior Managers check the progress of cases with Officers often, to make sure we are getting it right.
When we have completed our investigation, and either the nuisance has ceased or no further action is required, we will consider closing the case. We will write to confirm when we have closed a case, and give you a contact number in case of further problems. We may contact you to ask for your opinion on how the case was handled which helps us to continually improve the quality of our service.
We will work with individuals, communities and groups to deal with local issues, such as safety and security, crime, vandalism and drug and alcohol abuse. We belong to the local Community Safety Partnership, which has been set up to focus on these issues. We also work closely with the Street Wardens who have a key role in helping to prevent anti-social behaviour by working with people to improve safety in local neighbourhoods.
Personal information will not be given to a third party without your permission, either during or after a case has been investigated. This includes information that we give to the person causing anti-social behaviour. When keeping or disclosing information about the case we will at all times comply with the Data Protection Act (1998).