Our powers to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour
Our Anti-Social Behaviour Team works with Essex Police and The Local Community Safety Group 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.
Actions that can be used to tackle anti-social behaviour without resorting to legal enforcement
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.
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 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 were 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.
Noise Abatement Notices
Local authorities have a duty to take reasonable practical steps to investigate complaints of noise nuisance.
Upon receipt of a complaint, Basildon Council's Environmental Health Officers will try to resolve the matter informally. If a formal investigation finds evidence of statutory noise nuisance, a Noise Abatement Notice can be served. A breach of this notice may result in seizure of equipment.
Actions that can be used to tackle anti-social behaviour using legal 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:
Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions
An injunction is a civil order obtained from the County Court that can control and remedy anti-social behaviour.
An injunction can prevent a person from participating in certain types of behaviour or carrying out certain actions.
Injunctions can only be used for perpetrators over the age of 18.
An injunction can be applied for against tenants, owner-occupiers and private tenants where the conduct, "is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person"; and "where it directly or indirectly relates to or affects the housing management function"
In serious cases where there have been threats or use of violence, action can be taken immediately and the perpetrator can be excluded from a specified area.
If an injunction is breached the court can impose a fine or commit the perpetrator to prison.
Injunctions will be used when someone is committing serious anti-social behaviour and they are a swift resolution that can provide immediate protection to victims and witnesses.
Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are civil orders that protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and can be made on anyone over 10 years of age who has displayed anti-social behaviour in the last 6 months.
ASBOs last for a minimum of 2 years.
They are not criminal penalties and are not designed to punish the perpetrator but to control their behaviour.
Breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence which results in a fine of up to £5000 or up to 5 years in prison.
ASBOs will be used when the behaviour of an identified individual or group of people has caused harassment, alarm or distress to people not living in the same household as them and it is found necessary to protect the public from further anti-social behaviour.
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.
Demotion Orders (for Basildon Council tenants only)
Demotion orders allow landlords to apply to the courts to reduce the security of tenants.
Demotion orders remove a number of rights, including the right to buy and the right to exchange.
Demotion orders last for a year unless proceedings for possession are issued within that time.
Demotion orders give a serious warning to the tenant. If they continue to misbehave, swift action will be taken to seek possession of their home.
Possession Proceedings (for Basildon Council tenants only)
Possession proceedings allow landlords to apply for and possibly take back possession of a property in cases where there have been very serious breaches of the tenancy agreement. This is always a last resort.
A notice of seeking possession will be served in the first instance and then an application to the County Court for a court hearing must be made. It is at this hearing that the Judge will decide if it is reasonable for the perpetrator to lose their home.
Dispersal Orders enable the police and Basildon Council to work together to identify problem areas where people feel threatened by groups hanging around causing intimidation and acting in an anti-social manner.
Where there are persistent problems with such groups the Police have the power to apply to the court to designate an area for up to six months with Basildon Council's agreement.
When a Dispersal Order is in place the police have the power to disperse groups who are causing harassment, alarm and distress; within that geographical area and can exclude them from that area for up to 24 hours.