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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 20 October, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety

 

Adoption of Anti - Social Behaviour Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of the outcome of the consultation process on the draft policy for dealing with anti-social behaviour in Council housing and to agree the final policy and implementation date.    

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet notes the feedback on the draft policy arising from the various consultations.

2.         That Cabinet approves the final policy, which incorporates the views collected as part of the consultation process (attached as Appendix 1). 

3.         That Cabinet authorises officers to implement the new policy with effect from January 2015, following further staff and stakeholder training.  

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure Cabinet is satisfied with the consultation process.

2.         To ensure the revised policy takes reasonable account of the consultation.

3.         To ensure that that the new ASB policy is implemented and in a timely manner.  

Background

2.         Cabinet previously considered a report proposing a new approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour for council tenants [Minute C2055 refers].  The report emphasised that the policy would apply to the Council in its role as a social landlord.  The principle changes in the new policy were aimed at producing a more outcome focussed approach.  At the core of the new system is a distinction between anti-social behaviour as set out in the Crime and Disorder Act: Any conduct that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not in the same household, and estate management nuisance.   It was agreed that there would be a parallel policy for dealing with estate management issues, Estate Nuisance Policy (attached as Appendix 2).

3.         Cabinet approved the first draft policy subject to consultation with various groups, including tenants and the Safer Vale Partnership.   

Relevant Issues and Options

The following details the consultation process and the views expressed as part of that process.

 

4.         The Housing Section consulted the following groups:

·           The Housing Services Review Group - a group of engaged tenants from across the Vale concerned with housing management issues.

·           Area Tenants and Residents Groups

·           The Sheltered Housing Forum

·           The Tenants’ Working Group

·           The Safer Vale Partnership

·           Third sector organisations

·           Tenants attending the Halloween Fun Day Event

5.         Direct consultation was also undertaken with all 3,906 tenants via a postal survey.

6.         The consultation focussed on the intention to distinguish between anti-social behaviour and estate nuisance.  Further to this it detailed how the Council wished to adopt a different approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour i.e. outcome focussed.  During the consultation officers sought to gauge people’s opinions as to how different issues should be categorised i.e. either as anti-social behaviour or estate nuisance. 

People’s Views: Issues classed as anti-social behaviour expressed as a percentage of responses.

 

anti-social-behaviour---graph

7.         From the consultation process there are some clear examples of behaviour which tenants’ consider to be unacceptable

8.         There are also examples where tenant's views differed.   Several people used the example of running a business from home, saying that it should be judged according to the impact on the neighbours: there is a big difference between someone repairing cars on the premises and someone running a book-keeping business.  People thought that such cases would not fit easily into a process-led procedure, and that the Council should consider the impact on neighbours and reasonableness.    

9.         The majority of people thought that the council should be prepared to escalate low-level matters if a tenant persisted in causing a nuisance as the cumulative effect of on-going nuisance could cause the same level of distress as anti-social behaviour. 

10.      Overall tenants were in favour of the proposed distinction between anti-social behaviour and estate nuisance and generally concurred with the proposed classification of specific problems.  People endorsed the idea that the Council should tackle serious cases with vigour, while exploring alternative solutions for lower level nuisance.

Partner Organisations.

11.      The Safer Vale Partnership was a key consultee as they are our major operational partner in combatting anti-social behaviour.   In particular the Safer Vale Partnership emphasised the need for care in determining, who is the victim in each case.  Categories of ASB were also amended in line with their views.  The Safer Vale Partnership stressed the importance of setting deadlines, having robust processes for dealing with confidential matters, keeping parties informed and close collaboration with partners on particular issues such as hate motivated incidents. 

12.      A large number of voluntary organisations have been consulted but the response was disappointing.

13.      Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee were consulted and  were keen to ensure that the policy focused on confidentiality and respect, that nuisance diaries were retained where appropriate and stressed that the role of the police was key in supporting the policy.  The Committee also highlighted the need for preventative measures to be used to support communities and that estate design changes be considered to reduce anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime.

Statutory Consultation.

14.      The postal survey covered all 3,906 tenants and we received 927 responses, which is a 23.7% response rate. 

15.      The survey focussed on three questions:

·           Question One: Do you agree that we should separate anti-social behaviour from low level nuisance?

·           Question Two: Do you support the aims of the new approach?

·           Question Three: Do you agree with the examples of anti-social behaviour and estate nuisance?

16.      The results were very positive and reinforce the need to move on with the new approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Q1: 90% in favour; 10% against.

Q2: 95% in favour; 5% against.

Q3: 90% in favour; 10% against.

17.      The comments were similar to the face to face feedback.  There was a general feeling that litter and graffiti adversely affected peoples' quality of life. 

18.      Respondents added comments as requested; the majority were in favour:

The two approaches are right and the balance is right.

In my view a well-balanced package. 

I think the introduction of the new policies makes a lot of sense and puts things in perspective.

There were negative comments, but these were a small minority:

No Ball games need to be banned.  Those small scooters are ridiculous, sounds like a train going past

19.      Tenants also commented on the different approaches a landlord might adopt:

Getting help for youngsters who hang around streets bored, then they turn to drink or drugs get understanding people to listen and help.

You should evict the people; also bill the people who cause damage.

20.      The final anti-social behaviour policy taking into account the views expressed as part of the consultation process is attached at Appendix 1.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

21.      Initial work commissioned using Wales & West Housing Association was allowed for in the 2013/14 budget.

22.      Resources for the consultation process were funded from existing budgets.

23.      There are no additional resources required to complete this project.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      The new policy will provide the Council with an effective tool to promote community cohesion, reduce fear of anti-social behaviour and ensure the sustainability of the areas where tenants and residents live.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      As a social landlord the Council is required by law to have policies and procedures for dealing with anti-social behaviour.

26.      The new procedure linked to this policy will contain guidance on the use of legal sanctions to combat anti-social behaviour.

27.      The policy will ensure that the Council does not act illegally and complies with all relevant statutory legislation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.      The new policy should enable the Council to concentrate resources on reducing serious anti-social behaviour.

29.      Where anti-social behaviour is dealt with effectively, there will be a reduction in crime and disorder.

30.      The new policy should enhance collaboration with other agencies such as Safer Vale and the police service.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

31.      The new policy should enable the Council to protect vulnerable members of society and deal with hate crime.  The new policy will promote more effective action in cases of hate crime and domestic abuse.  It will dovetail with the new Domestic Abuse Policy, which has been drafted in full consultation with Atal-y-fro, the Vale of Glamorgan's branch of Women's Aid.   

32.      As a major housing policy change an Equality Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

Corporate/Service Objectives

33.      Objective 4: To enhance tenants’ quality of life by making relevant improvements to their homes and communities.

34.      Objective 5: To deliver a timely, high quality, responsive housing management and maintenance service.

Policy Framework and Budget

35.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

36.      As this is a Vale wide issue no specific ward member consultation has been undertaken.

37.      The housing section has consulted with tenants as advised in the body of this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

38.      Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Alan Sinclair, Housing Manager - Tel:  01446 709831

Officers Consulted

Safer Vale

Committee Reports - Legal

Accountant - Housing

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing.

 

 

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