Anti-Social Behaviour Policy
Aim of Policy
For the purposes of this Policy, ForViva and Group members are referred to as ‘the Group’. The Group owns properties which are spread over a large geographical area and therefore there will be reference in part of this policy to specific areas and the policy will otherwise be common between the areas.
The Group recognises the impact that Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) can have on the lives of customers and aims to enable a living and working environment that is free from any form of intimidation, harassment, discrimination or victimisation because of a person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin or religion.
The Group is committed to delivering services through a non-judgemental, balanced approach. All cases of ASB will be treated fairly, taking into account the needs of all individuals involved, including the complainants, witnesses and alleged perpetrators.
The Group believes that all customers should be able to live without fear of abuse from a spouse or partner, former spouse or partner or other member of their household and understands that any person can experience domestic abuse. The Group provides victim-centred, accessible and flexible assistance to customers who are suffering domestic abuse and hate behaviour, as well as offering advice and support to perpetrators.
This Policy sets out how the Group will endeavour to prevent and tackle ASB and applies where the alleged perpetrator and/or the complainant lives in, or is visiting, a property managed by the Group or is within a neighbourhood where the Group has homes. This could also apply if an incident takes place elsewhere, for example at one of the housing offices.
The Group will take action for ASB against perpetrators or on behalf of victims who live in housing not managed by the Group such as Leaseholders, shop owners and owner occupiers.
This Policy also applies where staff, customer representatives, contractors, partners or agents are subjected to abusive, threatening or intimidating behaviour (including hate behaviour) whilst working or acting on behalf of the Group.
Definition of Anti Social Behaviour
The Group uses the following definitions of ASB, as outlined in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and The Housing Act 1996 (as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003):
“Behaviour which caused or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator.”
“Conduct which is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person and which directly or indirectly relates to or affects our housing management function.”
The following is not an exhaustive list, but examples of ASB can include:
- Noise nuisance including loud music, shouting, slamming doors;
- Behaviour which is aggressive, threatening or causes intimidation or harassment;
- Criminal activity which affects the community;
- Problems caused by animals (uncontrolled behaviour, or persistent barking);
- Abandoned cars and other vehicle nuisance including motorbikes/mopeds;
- Acts or threats of violence;
- Hate behaviour (including harassment);
- ASB as a result of misuse of drugs or alcohol;
- Domestic abuse.
There are some types of behaviour that may not be considered as ASB, such a baby crying, people completing DIY at a reasonable time of the day or dogs barking intermittently.
The Group will assess each report individually when deciding whether it is ASB, considering factors such as frequency and circumstances.
Definition of Hate Incidents/Hate Crime
A Hate Incident is: Any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.
A Hate Crime is: Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a personal characteristic.
There are five centrally monitored strands of hate crime:
- Race or ethnicity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Transgender identity
The Group adopts a zero tolerance approach to all hate crime and hate related incidents. This is set out within this Policy.
Definition of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
This policy sets out how the Group deals with incidents of domestic abuse.
Categories of Behaviour
The Group categorises and prioritises types of ASB as follows:
- The Group will acknowledge a report within one working day and arrange to discuss the problem with the Complainant;
- If the problem does not include violence or harassment, the Group will speak to the Complainant within five working days of receiving the report and interview the alleged perpetrator within five working days of them being identified;
- If the problem involves harassment (including hate behaviour or domestic abuse) the Group will meet with the Complainant within two working days and interview the alleged perpetrator (where appropriate) within two working days of them being identified;
- If the Complainant is suffering violence (or the threat of it) the Group will meet with them within one working day and (where appropriate) take action against the perpetrator on the same day.
Obligation of Tenants
The Group’s tenancy agreements set out the customer’s responsibilities to behave in a reasonable manner and to ensure that their family and any visitors do so as well. They include specific clauses regarding ASB which includes Hate Behaviour and Domestic Abuse. The Group will take appropriate action against customers, members of their household or their visitors if they do not comply with the conditions of the tenancy agreement.
Where it is reasonable and safe to do so, the Group will encourage and support complainants to try to resolve issues themselves by speaking directly to the other party or by attending a joint meeting facilitated by the Group.
Many of the Group’s ASB cases will require the involvement of other agencies and services to be able to resolve them. The Group will work with partner agencies such as the Police, Council and other providers as well as support services, for example Social Services, Education, Health, Youth and Fire Services. The latter can include carrying out joint interviews or home visits to Complainants or Perpetrators to assess support needs or issue warnings.
Across the Group, our involvement with partners varies, dependant on stock numbers and profile within each area. Due to small numbers of properties within Oldham and Fylde for example, involvement is less formal and more on an operational level than in Salford where we are a key housing provider. The partners with which we work in the different areas are shown below:
- Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council. We have membership on Oldham’s Housing Investment Partnership Board where decisions are made in relation to housing, including community safety issues
- First Choice Homes. In relation to allocations and sharing information to help protect communities.
- Greater Manchester Police Oldham Division. We meet on a local level with police, sharing information, reviewing cases and identifying hot spot areas.
- Fylde Borough Council. We work with the Council in terms of allocations and safeguarding issues such as making referrals if necessary.
- Lancashire Police Fylde Division. We work with the police to share information to assist in the protection of the community.
- Merseyside Police. We attend high level meetings, led by the police, relating to serious crimes including gun crime in the Knowsley area.
- Knowsley Council. We feed into Knowsley’s weekly Community Tensions Report which is a method of sharing information across key agencies who have a duty in terms of community safety. Flash points are reported such as up coming football maters or protests.
- Salford City Council. We are members of a number of groups at both strategic and operational level. These include the Community Safety Partnership, Partnership Delivery Group, STRIVE Board (low level domestic abuse intervention), Tackling Domestic Abuse Board, MARAC (multi-agency risk assessment conference).
- Other key Housing Providers, Salix Homes and Pendleton Together. We work together to provide joint information to the strategic boards operating in Salford. We also share information about individuals in order to help protect our communities.
- Greater Manchester Police. We attend a range of meetings that are led by the police including Gold, Silver and Bronze meetings where different levels of community safety related crimes are monitored and managed.
The Group is involved in multi agency meetings such as action planning meetings to discuss victims and/or perpetrators, Community Safety Partnership meetings, MARAC (high risk domestic abuse) and Child Protection Professionals meetings.
The Group supports the Community Safety Partnership’s ‘Community Trigger case review process’. This gives victims of persistent anti-social behaviour cases the right to request a review of their case and bring agencies together to find a solution, if issues haven’t been addressed. This process is coordinated by the relevant Council and does not replace the Group’s own complaints procedures.
Support for Victims and Witnesses
The Group will ensure that appropriate support is provided on a case by case basis. This will include carrying out a comprehensive Victim Risk Assessment; ensuring that the complainant’s support needs are met throughout the duration of the case.
This can include:
- support for victims and witnesses of ASB (and their families, where required) tailored to their individual needs, including out of hours support and pre and post court support
- referrals to other agencies such as drug and alcohol services, mental health, social services
There may be limitations to what the Group can do to help if the Complainant wishes to remain anonymous or does not want to accept support.
Support for Vulnerable Perpetrators
Support will be offered and provided to Perpetrators who exhibit vulnerabilities or support needs. This will be reviewed by the Group on a case by case basis.
The Group will assess the needs of a perpetrator during the initial interview and throughout the duration of the case. Where appropriate, the Group will work with specialist services, such as drug and alcohol, mental health and Council services, to ensure appropriate support and advice is provided.
However, it may not always possible to offer support before action is taken, for example in circumstances where the Group apply for a ‘without notice’ injunction.
The Group is committed to preventing ASB happening in the first place by:
- working with partner agencies such as the Police, Local Council and other agencies to maintain joint working arrangements;
- working with statutory and voluntary organisations, Residents groups and other organisations to assist in the provision and delivery of diversionary activities;
- carrying out effective pre-tenancy checks;
- applying a robust tenancy sign up process;
- using starter tenancies.
Resolving an ASB Case
The Group will explore all avenues available and always try to resolve ASB cases through informal action. This includes, but is not exhaustive to:
- where additional needs have been identified such as mental health difficulties (inclusive of dementia) the Group will work to resolve ASB cases seeking additional support as required;
- where appropriate, make use of Warning Interviews, Restorative Justice, Good Neighbour Agreements and Mediation methods;
- when necessary, install noise monitoring or surveillance equipment or make use of professional witnesses;
- upon resolution of a case, when appropriate, publicising successful outcomes through various media to demonstrate the Group’s commitment to tackling ASB, to inform staff and the wider community and to deter potential perpetrators;
- if a customer feels that their ASB case has been incorrectly closed, they have the option to appeal the decision made to close their case, with the appeal being fully investigated by a Manager who has had no involvement with the case ; and
- where customers express dissatisfaction with the way that ongoing live cases are handled or complain that they do not feel the process is being followed, they will also have the opportunity to have their case reviewed through the appeal process, as above.
Legal Action and Enforcement
When all options to resolve a case have been exhausted, where appropriate, reasonable and proportionate legal action will be sought. There will also be occasions where immediate legal action is required such as where serious threats have been made or violence has occurred.
The Group aims to do this whilst keeping the need for evictions to a minimum.
The Group will take necessary action against customers, members of their household or their visitors if they do not comply with the conditions of the tenancy agreement (or any lease or transfer deed for owner occupiers who have exercised their right to buy/acquire).
The Group may also take action against people who cause ASB in neighbourhoods where the Group has homes even if the perpetrators are not tenants of the Group.
Possession of a Group property may also be sought where ASB and/or criminality has already been proven by another court (e.g. Magistrates Court). This can apply when the perpetrator is the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property.
The Group will also use available powers to protect non-Group customers from unacceptable behaviour that may occur in neighbourhoods where the Group has homes. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for the Group to support other agencies in taking legal action.
Data Protection, Confidentiality and Information Exchange
The Group will not disclose any information about, or provided by, a Complainant without their consent unless there are safeguarding issues that could impact on the safety of children or vulnerable adults or where there may have been a crime committed.
All information shared in respect of Perpetrators will adhere to the principles of data protection and in accordance with legislation as it relates to information sharing between agencies for the purposes of the reduction of crime and disorder.
How the Policy Will be Delivered
Our Neighbourhood Services Teams situated in our relevant subsidiaries will have day to day responsibility for delivering this Policy.
If employees become aware that there are problems with effective operation of this Policy or the associated procedures, they should report this to the Policy Owner. This feedback will be incorporated into the policy and procedural review process.
The Group will monitor and report performance in compliance with this Policy through the in-house IT system, performance indicators and customer satisfaction feedback.
This ASB Policy will be available to all employees through the intranet and via Group websites for customers and partner agencies. Regular training will be provided to relevant employees on all ASB policies and procedures.