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Our powers to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour

Our Anti-Social Behaviour Team works with Essex Police and the Local Community Safety Partnership, as well as other agencies and local residents, to tackle anti-social behaviour and its causes.

When confronted with anti-social behaviour our Anti-Social Behaviour Team will always recommend trying and work out any problems by talking to those involved rather than taking enforcement action.

However should this fail, we will take all necessary action against those causing an anti-social behaviour problem within a community.

The following courses of action are available to help us resolve problems of anti-social behaviour. This list is not exhaustive and when necessary we will work with our partners to look at a whole range of additional options available to us in order to resolve anti-social behaviour.


Early Intervention


Referrals to other agencies/services for support

In some circumstances it will be appropriate for the investigating officer to make a referral to other agencies/specialist staff for intervention and support, and in some cases the rehabilitation of perpetrators. There are a variety of agencies/staff who may become involved.

Warnings

Approaching the perpetrator and discussing their behaviour with them is often an effective way of solving the problem. Issuing a warning about the possible legal action that can be taken if the nuisance behaviour persists will more often than not be all that is required to stop the anti-social behaviour.

A warning should always be the first remedy attempted unless the behaviour complained of is extremely serious in nature i.e. if there has been a threat of, or use of violence.

Mediation

Mediation is a way of resolving disputes, which helps the people involved to reach an agreement with the help of an impartial third party. It gives those involved, the opportunity to meet to find a solution rather than having one imposed on them.

This can be successful in cases where there is a relatively minor dispute. Mediators are not responsible for taking sides, making judgements or giving advice, but responsible solely for developing interaction (and building consensus) between the parties involved in the dispute.

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts

An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) is a non-legally binding written contract between one or more local agencies and a perpetrator outlining what they can and cannot do.

The terms of the contract will reflect the behaviour being complained of and it will also set out the possible consequences of breaking the agreement. ABCs are often used with young people but will be equally used with adults where appropriate.

They are used when a perpetrator of low-level anti-social behaviour has been identified and when a warning has been unsuccessful in resolving the problem.


Enforcement


It is not always necessary to seek enforcement action through the Courts to stop anti-social behaviour, generally a warning letter or visit proves very effective.

However, if a problem persists after we have tried the non-legal remedies or if someone is in danger then we will commence legal action straight away.

The following courses of action are available to us:

Injunctions

The injunction is a civil order which is available in the county court for adults and in the youth court for juveniles under 18. To obtain an injunction the court must be satisfied that an individual has engaged in, or threatens to engage in, conduct capable of causing nuisance and annoyance.

It has 2 purposes:

  • To place sanctions on perpetrators to stop their behaviour
  • To demand positive actions to address the underlying reason for their behaviour, to reduce anti-social behaviour in the long term

An injunction can include the power of arrest in cases where the perpetrator has used or threatened with violence, or if there is a significant risk of harm to others. If a perpetrator fails to change their behaviour they can receive more serious sanctions, including prison.

Those who do not obey the order will be guilty of contempt of court and may be sent to prison.

Community Protection Notice

The community protection notice enables local authorities and police to stop persistent environmental anti-social behaviour, like graffiti, neighbour noise or rubbish on private land. This behaviour is causing continuing or persistent detrimental effect on quality of life and is unreasonable. This can apply to anyone aged 16 or over and lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Public Space Protection Order

This order deals with a nuisance or problem in a public area. The order applies to everyone in that area, for example no dogs, no alcohol. It can last for up to 3 years and a breach can lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice and/or criminal proceedings leading to a fine.

Closure Orders

This is used to stop someone entering a building that has become the site of a lot of ASB or may become one. This could be a house, a pub, etc. Breaching this is a criminal offence and can lead to custody, a fine or both.

Suspension Orders for the Right to Buy (for Basildon Council tenants only)

Section 192 of the Housing Act 2004 enables landlords of secure tenants to seek an order suspending the right to buy for a specified period in respect of the tenancy on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.

The court may only grant such an order if it is satisfied that the tenant or a person residing in or visiting the property has engaged or threatened to engage in anti-social behaviour (which includes using the premises for unlawful purposes), and that it is reasonable to make the order.

Possession

The law sets out reasons why secure council tenants can be evicted. These are called grounds for possession. They come in two main types, discretionary and mandatory. The court must be convinced that there is at least one ground to evict you. With discretionary grounds, the court must agree that the ground has been proved and that it is reasonable to evict the tenant. If the council proves that a mandatory ground for eviction applies to you and suitable alternative accommodation has been refused, the court must make a possession order. The Council does not have to offer you anywhere to live if evicting you because of anti-social behaviour.

Absolute Grounds for Possession

This measure enables the absolute grounds for possession of secure tenancies in specific cases of ASB.

The 5 triggers for Absolute Ground for possession are:

  1. Criminal Conviction
  2. Breach of Injunction
  3. Breach of Criminal Behaviour Order
  4. Closure Order
  5. Offence under Environmental Protection Act

This measure will always be a last resort, when all other tools have been used without success.

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