Antisocial behaviour: What can be done?
When dealing with antisocial behaviour, it’s always best to try to sort out the problem yourself if possible. Try talking to your neighbour and discuss your concerns with them in a reasonable and polite manner. Most neighbours will respond to a reasonable request and it’s better to approach them first and try to work things out between you. If this approach doesn’t work, or you feel unable or are frightened to talk to your neighbour, contact Yorkshire Housing who will try to help you.
If you are witnessing or suffering from nuisance, crime and antisocial behaviour it is important to keep detailed records of what is happening to you and your family. So that the police or Yorkshire Housing can help quickly, we will need dates and times of incidents; what exactly happened; who said or did what; and how long the incident lasted. It is important you tell us how the nuisance or antisocial behaviour makes you feel, or if it is harming your health.
Our promise to you
We believe that everyone has the right to enjoy their home, free from nuisance or antisocial behaviour. The distress nuisance behaviour can cause to individuals and communities can be overwhelming so we take reports of antisocial behaviour very seriously.
We aim to:
- Actively discourage nuisance or antisocial behaviour
- Reduce problems associated with antisocial behaviour
- Take positive action against, or on behalf of residents
Our service standards
You can expect the following service standards from Yorkshire Housing:
- We will aim to remove racist and offensive graffiti within 24 hours and other graffiti within three working days
- We will aim to repair serious damage to property caused by antisocial behaviour within 24 hours, and within five working days in less serious cases
- We will keep your information confidential and will never share this without your approval
- If it is an urgent case we will be in touch within 24 hours, otherwise we will contact you with 5 working days
- We will investigate your complaint, to do this we will speak to both yourself and the person you have made a complaint against
- If the complaint is upheld, we will decide on a course of action, keeping you informed at every stage
- If the complaint is not upheld then we will close the case, letting you know verbally in writing that we have made that decision and why
- If there is not sufficient evidence then we will look for other options or close the case
- If the situation does not improve after the initial action, we will look at other options for further action, we may need to involve third parties such as the police
What happens if problems continue?
If our interviews and warnings do not stop the behaviour then Yorkshire Housing will be looking to take further action (including legal action). We will often consider mediation or restorative justice in the first instance.
Mediation is when an impartial person – trained in dealing with difficult discussions between 2 opposing sides – acts like a referee in a dispute. No one is forced to enter into mediation, but both sides are encouraged to try it, as conflicts ended through mediation prove to be more successful resolutions, lasting the longest.
Restorative Justice is similar to mediation, however, the process is slightly different because one side has accepted they have been wrong in their behaviour, and both neighbours now need to work out a way forward. Mediation is usually where there is a difference in lifestyle or a clash of personalities.
Other actions Yorkshire Housing can take are:
- To issue warnings
- To issue sound recorders or CCTV equipment
- To issue physical security measures such as extra locks and security lights
- To issue a written warnings to perpetrator
- Injunctions (county court orders) against perpetrator
- To begin eviction proceedings
- To involve the police
Our policies and procedures
Antisocial behaviour procedure
Antisocial behaviour policy
Antisocial Behaviour Policy SummaryYorkshire Housing is committed to tackling and preventing antisocial behaviour experienced by our customers, their neighbours, staff or contractors. Antisocial behaviour can range from low-level nuisance to serious violent or criminal behaviour. It can occur in the neighbourhood area or in the home, and action can be taken against behaviour perpetrated by customers, members of their household, visitors, and ‘non-tenants’. Our Approach To prevent antisocial behaviour through a variety of physical and social interventions; to promptly, proportionately, and effectively deal with incidents, keeping all involved regularly updated, and using legal remedies where necessary; to commit to working with perpetrators to change their behaviour where possible, and to support victims and witnesses. Customer Responsibilities Customers are responsible for their own behaviour, and that of their household and visitors. We expect customers and local residents to report antisocial behaviour promptly and engage with our efforts to resolve it, and that communities take ownership of their area. ‘Every Day Matters to the Victim’ This is the name of our antisocial behaviour strategy for 2015-18. It sets out our aims for the next three years. A copy of this is available on request. Partnership Working We know that working with our partners such as the police, Local Authorities and social services is key to successful interventions and will engage with these where necessary, sharing data and information. We are fully compliant with the requirements under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 that govern a customer’s right to ‘trigger’ a multi agency audit of their case should they believe no progress is being made to resolve their problems. Data Protection and Confidentiality We comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 that sets out requirements for ensuring data about individuals is properly protected, and only shared in a lawful way. Any information shared will be: necessary and relevant, shared fairly and transparently, accurate and up-to-date, only kept for a necessary period of time, and will be kept secure. Staff will ensure that they maintain confidentiality. We will only disclose the complainant’s identity to the perpetrator and any other parties including doctors and teachers with their explicit and recorded permission. When necessary, we will make referrals to social services or to the police without the permission of the complainant or the alleged perpetrator. Early Stages We will respond quickly to occurrences of antisocial behaviour, and will involve parents and guardians where the alleged perpetrators are children or young people. We will communicate clearly to all involved in an appropriate language and format, keeping them informed of progress. We will seek assistance and support if the behaviour is caused or worsened by the perpetrator’s disabilities or vulnerabilities, and will ensure any legal action is proportionate and legitimate. Enforcement Action We will endeavour to work with all involved to resolve problems without resorting to legal action. We reserve the right to use what we consider to be most appropriate legal remedy in each circumstance to protect customers and property from harm such as tenancy and civil injunctions, demoted tenancies, or possession. The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 The Act seeks to focus on victims’ needs; empower communities to stop antisocial behaviour and to provide professionals with faster and more effective powers. The Act provides Yorkshire Housing with three new powers which will be used when appropriate on a case by case basis:
- Civil Injunctions for persons under 18 years old
- Injunction order ‘requirements’
- Mandatory possession following conviction of serious crimes, breaches of civil injunction orders, or the issue of a Closure Order
Support for Victims and Witnesses Victims and witnesses are vital in resolving antisocial behaviour but we recognise they may need support due to the potentially distressing nature of the incidents. Victims and witnesses can become isolated and others may be reluctant to report their own incidents for fear of repercussions. Victims and witnesses need to have confidence in Yorkshire Housing. We will offer support to customers such as (but not limited to): prompt interviews and regular updates, use of CCTV, and out of hour telephone contact. Starter Tenancies Our use of starter tenancies is key in tackling antisocial behaviour. Starter tenants will be treated fairly and consistently, and will not be discriminated against. They also have the right to appeal in front of an Appeal Panel should they face legal action to terminate their tenancy. Monitoring our Service We collect data on antisocial behaviour to show we meet our performance targets; that we do not discriminate; how satisfied customers are and where to improve our services; identify hotspots and specific problems; and to most effectively target our resources. Publicising our Service We use publicity to encourage victims and witnesses to report problems; to raise awareness of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and to deter those causing problems to continue. We do this in a variety of ways. Equality and Diversity Implications This policy will be used in conjunction with Yorkshire Housing’s Equality & Fairness Strategy. Yorkshire Housing treats all customers under this policy fairly and equitably regardless of age, gender, race, colour, religious belief, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, culture, ability or lifestyle. This policy highlights the importance of carrying out speedy and professional investigations in an impartial and objective attempt to establish the truth in order to take the appropriate action to prevent further harm. Officers are required to be aware of difficulties with language, reading or written communications, and to explore a wide range of evidence gathering techniques. The policy and its procedures contain measures to ensure the rights of vulnerable customers are safeguarded whether they are the problems or suffering from them. The Head of Neighbourhood Services is responsible for implementing this policy. A full copy of Yorkshire Housing’s Antisocial Behaviour Policy is available on request.
Domestic violence policy
Domestic Violence Policy SummaryDomestic Violence is a criminal Offence and a statutory ground for possession (eviction). We will take steps to assist and support any person suffering from or threatened with violence and abuse and take action against those who perpetrate violence. Domestic violence is defined by the Home Office as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’ (Domestic Violence – A National report, the Home Office 2005). It can occur within any household against men and women of any age or degree of vulnerability, and can be perpetrated by a younger person against their parent. Domestic violence also includes familial violence, so-called honour based violence, forced marriage and harmful cultural practices. Where the safety of children is a concern Yorkshire Housing will act in accordance with the Safeguarding Children Policy, including referring any concerns to social services or the police. On rare occasions the perpetrator will be a young person (under 18 years) directing their aggressive behaviour towards parents or siblings. These instances are to be treated both as Domestic Violence cases and as child safeguarding with the established referrals to social services and the police. Partnership Working Yorkshire Housing are not normally the lead agency in cases of domestic violence, but on very serious cases we will work with local multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC) and more generally in partnerships with other agencies such as (but not limited to) Refuge, the police, or social services. Reporting Abuse We will take all reports of domestic violence seriously, and we will take a victim-centred approach to the investigation. Domestic violence can be reported by victims or witnesses, including Yorkshire Housing staff, and may be made in the first instance to the police, local authorities, refuge groups, voluntary organisations and friends and relative. Support for Victims and Witnesses We will work with partners where necessary to provide additional safety measures, and protect any other family members that may also be vulnerable and at risk, including them in our risk assessments and support measures. We will support victims who wish to remain in their own home by providing additional security measures or using legal action against the perpetrator. When appropriate we will support victims to take their own legal action against the perpetrator, and we can also use a range of our own legal remedies:
- A civil injunction under the ASB, Crime & Policing Act 2014
- An injunction for breach of contract (tenancy agreement)
- A restraining order, under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, to protect a victim from harassment of fear of violence
- Possession proceedings for breach of contract (tenancy agreement)
For victims at immediate risk we will consider a range of options for emergency housing including referral to the local authority homeless persons unit or refuge. Yorkshire Housing will respect the need for confidentiality and discretion and consider the safety of the victim at all stages. Data Protection Information provided by the complainant will be treated as confidential at all times and only passed to external agencies with prior consent complying with the best practice guidance set out in Yorkshire Housing’s Data Protection policy and procedures. We reserve the right to make a referral to social services or to the police without the permission of the complainant or the alleged perpetrator, where the situation justifies it in line with our Data Protection Policy. Equality and Diversity Implications This policy will be used in conjunction with Yorkshire Housing’s Equality & Fairness Strategy. Yorkshire Housing treats all customers under this policy fairly and equitably regardless of age, gender, race, colour, religious belief, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, culture, ability or lifestyle. Yorkshire Housing recognises that domestic violence can be inflicted by men on women and/or children or other family members, can occur in heterosexual relationships where the man is the victim, and in lesbian and gay relationships. The Head of Neighbourhood Services is responsible for implementing this policy. A full copy of Yorkshire Housing’s Domestic Violence Policy is available on request.
Every day matters to the victim – our antisocial behaviour strategy
Our values are respect, reliability and enthusiasm. Through this strategy we seek to build respect in our communities through a reliable and professional workforce so together we can challenge and stop damaging behaviour as quickly as possible. Yorkshire Housing is committed to stopping antisocial behaviour in a responsive and robust manner. We know that antisocial behaviour harms the quality of peoples’ lives which is why we work hard with our customers and partner agencies to challenge, prevent and stop it. Antisocial behaviour includes a range of behaviours and has many causes. We use a four-point approach:
- supporting victim
- prompt challenges
- legal action
What is antisocial behaviour?
Antisocial behaviour covers a wide range of behaviours from dropping litter, graffiti, dog barking, very loud music, late night noise, drug dealing, property damage, threats, and even violence. Antisocial behaviour includes all of these behaviours when motivated by hate or prejudice, including racial harassment and other hate crimes. Criminal behaviour is antisocial too. We recognise how harmful this behaviour can be for our customers which is why every aspect of the antisocial behaviour service is focused on stopping or preventing it as quickly as possible. The Antisocial Behaviour Strategy underpins our corporate priorities in ‘supporting our customers and their communities’.
What we are seeking to achieve
- Peaceful and respectful behaviour in each neighbourhood
- Easily available help, advice and support to victims
- Swift legal action to protect victims and their property
- Victims feeling able to report problems without fear or intimidation
- A service shaped by our customers’ experiences
- Problems being ‘nipped in the bud’
Our priorities over the next three years
We mean what we say with our slogan ‘every day matters to the victim’. Here are some of the measures we are implementing and some targets we have set ourselves leading up to 2018:
- Achieve 82 per cent approval rating of our service from our customers by the end 2018
- Establish a training programme to ensure staff deliver a quick and professional response to all reported problems
- Have in place a Victim and Witness Support Programme delivering practical support and reassurance to victims in their homes
- Publish a Witness Charter guaranteeing minimum levels of support for any customer giving evidence in court
- Improve our web site and publicity material, telling more people what can be done to stop and deter problems, and letting those causing problems know they could lose their homes
- Explore more ways we can provide ‘out of hours’ support and assistance to victims when our offices are shut
- Achieve external national accreditation confirming we are delivering an excellent service to our customers
Promoting respectful behaviour
We already take antisocial behaviour very seriously and currently invest considerable resources tackling it.
- We spend over £100,000 each year on legal actions, mediation and gathering evidence
- We ensure victims are regularly contacted by phone, letter or visits keeping them informed on what’s happening in their case
- We publicise our actions on our web site, on social media and in newsletters to encourage victims not to suffer alone, but to get in touch
- We use our tenancy agreement, face-to-face interviews and formal warnings to challenge those causing problems, and to make them stop
- We monitor our actions to make sure we act promptly and fairly in every case.
Preventing problems from escalating
The best way of tackling antisocial behaviour is to prevent it happening in the first place, or to ‘nip it in the bud’ as quickly as possible. We spend a lot of our time doing this:
- Checking all new applicants for any history of crime or antisocial behaviour
- Signing new customers on probationary ‘starter tenancies’
- Our tenancy agreement sets out clearly what is and is not acceptable behaviour
- Reinforcing this message with face to face interviews, Good Neighbour Agreements, family support services
- Reducing problems with improved lighting, landscaping, additional fencing, signs and organised play schemes for young people
- Consulting customers and developing Neighbourhood Plans to tackle ‘hot spots’ or recurring problems
- Using professional mediators on many of our cases to resolve disputes at an early stage
Action against antisocial behaviour awards
Each year we give awards to customers who demonstrate special courage and bravery in standing up to antisocial behaviour. We know we cannot succeed without their help and support. This year the overall award went to Milena. Milena was physically and verbally attacked by a neighbour when she stopped his grandchildren vandalising bushes. The neighbour punched and kicked Milena while shouting threats and abuse. Despite this terrifying ordeal she reported the attack to the police and to us, helping us secure injunctions and powers of arrest within 24 hours. Milena won this prize not just because she is a brave woman but because she refused to be silenced when she saw wrong, and because she did not turn away when she saw others damaging property and plants that belonged to the whole community.
How will we know if our strategy is working and making a difference to victims?
- Currently 56 per cent of customers believe our service is good or excellent. By 2018 we aim for 82 per cent of customers to give this feedback
- On average we resolve problems within 65 days. We aim to keep this average figure below 74 days throughout the next 3 years
- We publicise our actions so victims can compare their experience with others
- We report on progress each year to the Customer Services Committee and publicise this to customers on our website.
Yorkshire Housing witness charter
Antisocial behaviour figures 2017/18
Here are our antisocial behaviour statistics for 2017/18:
- Number of new cases – 1,228
- Number of cases closed – 1,123
- Average length of case – 55 days
- Customer satisfaction – 74 per cent
Report antisocial behaviour
If you or your neighbours are suffering from any of the issues described – we want to know. Report antisocial behaviour online or call 0345 366 4404.
See our frequently asked questions for some real life examples of what people have been through and some common questions with possible solutions.
Find out more
Read some of our antisocial behaviour success stories.