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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 policy

Antisocial Behaviour Policy Statement of Intent Yorkshire Housing is committed to tackling antisocial behaviour experienced by our customers, their neighbours, staff or contractors. This policy sets out Yorkshire Housing’s approach towards preventing and stopping harmful behaviour in our neighbourhoods. There are separate policies covering Harassment and Domestic Abuse. These three policies and procedures are closely linked. Background Tackling and preventing antisocial behaviour with customers and partners is at the heart of Yorkshire Housing’s aim of providing the very best homes possible. We believe that customers have the right to live free from concern about antisocial behaviour. Our approach includes:

* Prevention of antisocial behaviour through a variety of physical and social interventions, including clear communication of our expectations and the use of Starter Tenancies

* Dealing promptly, proportionately, and effectively with incidents of antisocial behaviour, keeping complainants and the wider community regularly updated where appropriate, and using legal remedies where necessary

* A commitment to working with perpetrators to change their behaviour wherever possible, and to support victims and witnesses with practical measures and regular updates.

Scope The policy applies to all properties owned and/or managed by Yorkshire Housing (including SPACE properties). The policy will apply to Yorkshire Housing tenants, their household members and their visitors, and relates to their behaviour on their premises or in the locality of their homes. This policy also applies to antisocial behaviour directed towards members of staff. The policy can also apply to non-tenants who perpetrate antisocial behaviour towards our tenants or their families and towards members of staff. Defining Antisocial Behaviour Antisocial behaviour can be anything from low-level nuisance to serious violent or criminal behaviour. It includes all behaviour that impacts negatively on customers’ quality of life in and around their homes whether that is unkempt gardens, dogs barking, late night noise and disturbance or harassment due to race, sexuality or religion. Domestic violence or abuse is a category of antisocial behaviour and a breach of the tenancy agreement. The antisocial behaviour may occur within the neighbourhood of the perpetrator or victim, or in the vicinity of their property. We can take action to deal with antisocial behaviour perpetrated by customers (tenants), members of their household, and their visitors. We can take action against ‘non tenants’ perpetrating antisocial behaviour towards our customers or members of staff. Customer responsibilities We expect customers and their visitors to behave in a responsible way and to respect other customers and residents in the local area. Customers are responsible for the actions of other members of their household and for their visitors. We encourage customers and local residents who have experienced or witnessed antisocial behaviour to report it to us promptly, and to engage with us to resolve problems. We expect communities to take ownership of their areas, to seek their own solutions and to play a part in preventing and responding to antisocial behaviour. “Preventing Harmful Behaviour” our antisocial behaviour strategy 2018-21 Our strategy sets out how we aim to prevent antisocial behaviour from occurring, and our intention to reduce noise nuisance cases by 20% over the same period. Partnership working We understand that working closely with our partners is key to successful and prompt interventions. We continue to work with the police, local authorities, social services, support providers, Multi Agency Risk Assessment Committees (MARACs) and Community Mental Health Teams as well as local voluntary groups. We will play an active role in local agency partnerships to reduce antisocial behaviour, including the sharing of data and information, and the participation in community remedies for any of our customers perpetrating antisocial behaviour. Data protection and confidentiality Yorkshire Housing’s Data Protection & Privacy Policy is found in policies section on Yoho Plus. It ensures we comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 ensuring all personal data about individuals during our ASB investigations is properly protected, and only shared in a lawful way. Tackling antisocial behaviour early stages Where antisocial behaviour occurs, we will respond quickly by carrying out interviews; seeking evidence; issuing warnings; seeking early resolutions through mediation; issuing formal cautions and taking enforcement action. Where the alleged perpetrators are children or young people, we will involve parents and guardians to resolve the problem. We will seek to liaise with relevant bodies such as social services, schools, youth offending teams. We will communicate clearly to complainants, witnesses and perpetrators in a language and format appropriate to their needs. We will keep all parties regularly updated about progress of our investigations. When antisocial behaviour is caused or exacerbated by the perpetrator’s vulnerabilities or disabilities, we will be vigilant in seeking assistance and support from care agencies and will ensure that any legal action is proportionate and legitimate. Enforcement action We will use legal action where necessary to protect customers and property from harm. We will endeavour to work with perpetrators and complainants 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:

* Tenancy Injunctions

* Civil Injunctions (ASB, Crime & Policing Act 2014)

* Demoted Tenancies

* Possession (including mandatory possession and starter tenancy Section 21 Notices)

The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 The ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 seeks to focus on victims’ needs; empower communities to stop antisocial behaviour and to provide professionals with faster and more effective powers to stop it. Support for victims and witnesses We understand that a critically important partner in resolving problems of antisocial behaviour is the victim and witness. Their experiences vary in severity from lacking sleep through loud music; being annoyed by a barking dog; being targeted with abusive or threatening language; witnessing criminal behaviour or even being the victim of violence or hate crime. Victims and witnesses may be isolated in their neighbourhood and will be looking to Yorkshire Housing to act as a champion, and a companion. We will offer support to customers in the form of:

* Prompt interviews and regular updates

* Use of CCTV and sound recording equipment

* Requesting extra police patrols

* Issue of personal alarms

* Use of window locks and security lights

* Court protocols and liaison for witnesses

* Leaflets giving advice on legal actions

* Out of Hour telephone contact

* Professional witness service

Starter tenancies Yorkshire Housing operates a universal starter tenancy scheme whereby all new customers are signed up on Starter Tenancy agreements which is a key component of our strategy in tackling antisocial behaviour. Monitoring our service We collect data on antisocial behaviour to show we meet our performance targets; that we do not discriminate against anyone in any individual case; 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. Publicity will also be used to raise awareness that criminal behaviour is a tenancy breach and could result in a customer losing their home. Safeguarding All employees will consider whether there are any safeguarding implications for each case, and consider whether any children or an ‘at risk’ adult are facing the risk of harm or self neglect. If so, Section 1 of the Safeguarding System will be completed within 24 hours of receiving the information and the case allocated to a Designated Safeguarding Persons (DSP) who will ensure the necessary actions are taken. 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. Those experiencing and perpetrating antisocial behaviour can come from all sections of our communities. 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 Customer Service Delivery is responsible for implementing this policy. A full copy of Yorkshire Housing’s Antisocial Behaviour Policy is available on request.

Domestic abuse policy

Domestic Abuse Policy Statement of intent This policy is intended to be comprehensive, clear and accessible. It outlines our general approach to addressing domestic abuse. However, we will consider each situation on its particular facts against the framework and guidance provided by our policy and procedure. We take domestic abuse seriously and are committed to providing a sensitive and confidential response to anyone approaching us for assistance. This Policy should be read in conjunction with:
* Antisocial Behaviour

* Harassment

* Safeguarding Adults

* Safeguarding Children

* Data Protection

* Joint to Sole Tenancy Policy

Background The Home Office definition of domestic abuse includes: ‘any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those age 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family-members, regardless of gender or sexuality.’ It includes forced marriage and so-called ‘honour violence’. Children are also affected by domestic abuse and this raises domestic abuse as a child protection issue. Scope The policy applies to all properties owned and/or managed by Yorkshire Housing (including SPACE properties). The policy will apply to Yorkshire Housing tenants and their household members. Yorkshire Housing has guidance relating to abuse suffered by, or perpetrated by members of staff. Partnership working We acknowledge that dealing with issues of domestic abuse requires a multi-agency approach and will endeavour to work with local agencies to ensure cases are dealt with in the most effective and efficient way. This may include referrals to multi-agency risk assessment conferences (MARAC).  ‘Make a Stand’ Pledge Yorkshire Housing supports the Chartered Institute of Housing’s ‘Make a Stand’ pledge which consists of four commitments to support people who live and work in housing who are experiencing domestic abuse. The four commitments are:

• To put in place and embed a policy to support residents who are experiencing domestic abuse

• To make information about national and local domestic abuse support services available on your website and in other places which are easily accessible to residents and staff

• To put in place a HR policy and procedure on domestic abuse, or to incorporate this into an existing policy, to support members of staff who are experiencing domestic abuse

• Appoint a champion in your organisation to own the activity you are doing to support people experiencing domestic abus

Reporting abuse Domestic abuse can be reported by victims or witnesses, including Yorkshire Housing staff, by any reasonable means and may be made in the first instance to the police, local authorities, refuge groups, voluntary organisations or friends and relatives. Recognising abuse All frontline staff receive domestic abuse awareness training so they are better able to recognise signs of abuse and will initiate the appropriate actions. At the heart of our approach is to deal with the victim as discreetly as possible, keeping all information confidential. We will explain clearly what the options are and what support measures are available without placing the victim at risk of retaliation. Support for victims and witnesses We will consider the safety of victims and witnesses, and where appropriate we will work with partners to provide additional safety measures. We will use the Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Honour Based Violence (DASH) risk assessment protocol to ensure a consistent approach when offering support and when deciding if a referral to MARAC is required. Support for victims through legal action When appropriate, we will support victims to take their own legal action against the perpetrator, and consider using our own legal remedies to protect the victim and support the victim’s efforts to remain at home. The Housing Act 1996 allows housing associations to evict a perpetrator of domestic abuse, whether or not they are a joint or sole tenant of the property. 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. Data protection and confidentiality We recognise that cases of domestic abuse can be very sensitive. Information provided by the complainant will be handled 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 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 2018. Safeguarding All employees will consider whether there are any safeguarding implications for each case, and consider whether any children or vulnerable adults are at risk of harm or self neglect. If so, Section 1 of the Safeguarding System will be completed within 24 hours of receiving the information and the case allocated to a Designated Safeguarding Persons (DSP) who will ensure the necessary actions are taken. Monitoring our service We will collect data on domestic abuse cases to show the scale and extent of these issues as they affect our customers; we will monitor whether we respond to these reports within the required timescales and within procedures; and we will seek to monitor levels of awareness about the signs of domestic abuse amongst our staff. 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 whilst domestic abuse is usually inflicted by men on women and/or children or other family members that such abuse can also occur in heterosexual relationships where the man is the victim. In addition, it is also recognised that abuse can take place in lesbian and gay relationships. The Head of Neighbourhood Services is responsible for implementing this policy. A full copy of Yorkshire Housing’s Domestic Abuse Policy is available on request.

Harassment policy

Harassment Policy Statement of intent Yorkshire Housing condemns all incidents of harassment whether perpetrated by its customers, employees, contractors or third parties. We are committed to taking a victim-centred approach and taking swift effective action against those found to have acted in this way. We are committed to preventing harmful behaviour before it occurs and tackling harassment at its early stages. We work closely with victims and with relevant partners such as the police and local authorities to achieve this. The policy is closely linked to our Antisocial Behaviour and Domestic Abuse policies. Background Harassment is most commonly seen as behaviour that targets members of identified groups because of their perceived differences. Individuals and families may face hate behaviour on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, mental health, and physical disability. The basis for the intense dislike held by the perpetrator towards the victim may be a simple lack of tolerance and understanding of this perceived difference, or may in some cases be attributable to established prejudices and ideology. Hate behaviour can sometimes escalate and be deemed criminal behaviour resulting in action by the police and criminal prosecution. Examples of hate behaviour include: abusive insults; name calling; threats and actual property damage; threats or actual violence. Scope The policy applies to all properties owned and/or managed by Yorkshire Housing (including SPACE properties). The policy will apply to Yorkshire Housing tenants, their household members and their visitors, and relates to hate behaviour on their premises or in the locality of their homes. This policy also applies to hate behaviour directed towards members of staff. The policy can also apply to non-tenants who perpetrate hate behaviour towards our tenants or their families and towards members of staff. Partnership working The effective prevention and management of harassment is reliant on successful partnership working. Where serious incidents, such as hate crimes, are reported our first priority will be to work with the police to ensure the safety of the victim(s) and coordinate legal action taken against the perpetrator. The police have extensive powers under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, ASB, Police and Crime Act 2014 and the Telecommunications Act 1984 to caution and prosecute those who cause or who are “likely to” cause alarm and distress to others. Yorkshire Housing will seek to use these powers as well as our own remedies to prevent and stop harassment when it occurs. We recognise there is a growing problem of cyber stalking and bullying or harassment perpetrated through social networking sites. We will work closely with the victim and police to prevent and stop harassment through these means. Reporting harassment We investigate all reports of harassment quickly. We will conduct the investigation sensitively and through the use of our Antisocial Behaviour & Harassment procedure. The investigation will be carried out in a sensitive and discreet manner, and our actions guided based primarily by the safety needs of the victim(s). Enforcement action We will take the appropriate enforcement action on a case by case basis, whether that is a formal warning, or legal action against the tenancy or individual ‘non tenants’. Our Tenancy Agreement prohibits all members of the household from perpetrating acts of hate crime and/or harassing others. This provides Yorkshire Housing with the powers to use injunctions against those perpetrating these acts whether they are the tenant, family members or visitors to the property. It also allows Yorkshire Housing to evict perpetrators in serious cases. Some of the legal remedies we may use include (but are not limited to): Civil Injunctions (ASB, Crime & Policing Act 2014); Tenancy Injunctions; Exclusion Orders; Power of Arrest; Demoted Tenancies; and Possession (evictions). Under 18s Where the alleged perpetrators are children or young people we will involve parents and guardians to help resolve the problem, and may liaise with social services, schools, youth offending teams, and any other relevant bodies to ensure any necessary assessments are undertaken. We will take appropriate action in cases involving vulnerable under 18s according to our Safeguarding Children Policy. We may take legal action against perpetrators aged under 18 as permitted by the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 through the Youth Courts. Non-tenants Yorkshire Housing has the power to obtain injunctions against those perpetrating harassment who are not our tenants. We reserve the right on a case by case basis to exercise this power to protect our tenants, their families and members of staff from continued harm. As with cases involving our own tenants we will work with the police and other partners in line with any information sharing agreements and protocols in place. Safeguarding All employees will consider whether there are any safeguarding implications for each case, and consider whether any children or vulnerable adults are at risk of harm or self neglect. If so, Section 1 of the Safeguarding System will be completed within 24 hours of receiving the information and the case allocated to a Designated Safeguarding Persons (DSP) who will ensure the necessary actions are taken. Support for victims and witnesses We take the safety and perception of safety, of victims and witnesses seriously. Where appropriate we will work with partners to provide additional safety measures, including but not limited to: regular police patrols; visits by officers; provision of personal alarms; and direct weekly contact with the victim. We will consider the use of CCTV and other practical victim support measures. Support for vulnerable residents We will consider whether victims, witnesses or perpetrators have any support needs that may affect their case. We will be sensitive about allegations against those that already feel stigmatised or victimised. We will take appropriate action in these cases according to our Protection of Vulnerable Adult and Safeguarding Children policies.Where we are considering legal action against an individual for harassment, we will ensure we are not discriminating against that person because of a disability and remain complaint with the Equality Act 2010 by justifying such action as legitimate and proportionate. Risk assessment We will carry out risk assessment protocols to ensure a consistent approach when offering support and practical safety measures to victims and/or when deciding if a referral to partner agencies is required. Monitoring our service We collect data on harassment cases to show we meet our performance targets; that we do not discriminate against anyone in any individual case; to establish how satisfied victims are with the service and where we can make improvements. Publicising our service We use publicity to encourage victims and witnesses to report incidents of harassment and to raise awareness of how to report such incidents and what support is available to the victim. We also use publicity to deter perpetrators and to re-state the link between criminal behaviour and the risk of eviction. We do this in a number of ways:
* Leaflets

* Yorkshire Housing website

* Social media

* Local press and media stories

Data protection and confidentiality We comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 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, relevant and not excessive
* will be shared fairly and transparently
* will be accurate and up-to-date
* won’t be kept any longer than is necessary
* will be kept secure

Staff will at all times be vigilant to ensure that they maintain confidentiality, and do not give details of cases they are involved in or aware of to any person inappropriately. We will be sensitive to the effect that disclosure of identity to a perpetrator or any other party could have on a complainant. 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. 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 will widely publicise, in appropriate languages its policy and procedure relating to all forms of harassment and will ensure that where requested, interpretation and translation services are made available to victims of racial harassment. The Head of Neighbourhood Services is responsible for implementing this policy. A full copy of Yorkshire Housing’s Harassment 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:

  • prevention
  • 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.

Measuring performance

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

As a witness of antisocial behaviour and harassment you are playing a vital role in helping us protect your community and to improve the quality of life for all those who live, work and visit. This charter sets out our commitment to you going forward.Witnesses involved in giving evidence will receive our assistance and full support. We understand that reporting problems and giving evidence in court can be difficult decisions and that victims require specific support and guidance from us. This charter outlines our minimum service standards in supporting witnesses from the initial complaint to preparing a case and attending court. We will continue to support witnesses after legal action has been concluded. We understand that the needs of a witness will differ from person to person and we will ensure that the support we provide is tailored to meet an individual’s needs. When you are considering becoming a witness we will meet with you to discuss this Charter in detail, explaining the standards and the commitment it provides you, and we will be available to answer any questions you may have. Reporting Incidents • You can report an incident of antisocial behaviour in writing, in person or by telephoning one of our offices or someone can report it for you • All your reports will be treated in strict confidence and never revealed to a third party without your knowledge and consent • Your report will always be taken seriously and we will arrange for your housing officer to speak to you in person within 5 working days • We will ensure we listen carefully to your report and record it accurately • Any urgent reports concerning violence, threats or serious property damage will be treated as top priority and we will interview you within 24 hours Discretion and Confidentiality • Yorkshire Housing will guarantee your anonymity up until you agree to become a formal witness. • If you become a formal witness, the perpetrator will know your name and address and will eventually read your signed statement. • If your case is very high risk you can give your evidence anonymously. • We will be discreet when visiting your home or arrange to meet you elsewhere. • We will not discuss your involvement in the case with any third party, unless you are happy for us to do so. Progress of your case • Once the investigation is underway, we will update you on progress at least once a week by telephone, email, text, visit or letter. We will explain clearly and carefully reasons behind all our decisions. • We will ask you to complete written records of further incidents and we will help your keep excellent records. We will look after all evidence carefully and we will not pass on your information to a third party without your permission. • If you report threats, violence or serious intimidation during the investigation we will investigate these immediately (no longer than 24hrs). We will discuss with you whether any additional support or security measures are needed. Making a statement • We will arrange to take your statement as soon as possible at a time and location convenient to you. We will ensure it is an accurate record and you are comfortable with what it says before you are asked to sign it. • We will provide you with a copy of your signed statement. • Your statement will not be used until you have checked, signed and agreed its use. Taking legal action • Yorkshire Housing will not start legal proceedings against the perpetrator without your advance knowledge, and we will keep you informed at each stage of proceedings. • We will discuss the proposed legal remedies with you and arrange for you to speak to our solicitor if you want. • We will assess the risks you and your family face on a daily basis and respond if these escalate. We will also keep in touch with you outside office hours. You will be given the direct telephone number of a competent person who can discuss the case with you Preparing for Court • We will ask you to advise us of any dates you will be unavailable and will liaise with the court to try and avoid such dates. • Where possible we will give you advance notice of the hearing date and any changes to it, and we will try to ensure that you only attend court when you are needed to give evidence. • We will help you with the practical arrangements for your attendance at court which may include providing transport and an escort to and from court. • We will provide you with information about what happens at court and discuss any concerns you may have. • We will offer you the opportunity to visit the court building ahead of the trial and give you a full explanation of court procedures. • Before any hearing, we will ask court officials to provide for any disability or medical condition that you may have. • If you have any language or communication needs, we will organise an interpreter or signer for the hearing. In the Court Building • You will be able to bring someone to support you at court. • Your housing officer will accompany you at all times during and after the trial. • You will have further opportunities to read your statement and to ask any questions from your housing officer or the solicitor. • You will not be waiting in the same room as the perpetrators, or ever left alone in the court building. We will arrange for refreshments when required. • We will ensure that the outcome of the hearing is fully explained to you before you leave the building.   What outcomes are possible at Court? Injunctions – An injunction is an order from a court that tells someone to either stop doing a certain thing (like banging walls) or to do a certain thing (like remove a dog from their home). Breaking an injunction is a serious offence that can lead to a fine or prison. There are several types of injunctions: • Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) • Tenancy Agreement Injunction • Antisocial Behaviour Act Injunction (ASBI) • Protection from Harassment Act Injunction. Undertakings – Sometimes the perpetrator can agree to give an undertaking rather than go through the full injunction procedure. This is a promise to the court to do a certain thing or not to do something. You won’t normally need to answer questions. Breaking an undertaking is as serious as breaking an injunction. “Without Notice” – In cases of violence or threatened violence we can obtain an emergency injunction within a day and without the perpetrator having prior knowledge or “notice” “With Notice” – This is the most common injunction we use. The perpetrator will receive all the evidence and will be given “notice” of the trial so he/she can defend themselves. The Injunction Order lasts for a specified time, usually 12 months. Power of Arrest – Sometimes, if there is a real risk of harm to neighbours the judge will attach a power of arrest to the injunction. This allows the police to arrest the perpetrator on “reasonable suspicion” of breaching the Order. The police will then deliver the perpetrator in to court the following morning. If you have witnessed this incident, you will be required to attend in person as a witness. Committal – Most injunctions work and the problems stop. However, if the perpetrator ignores an injunction or an undertaking they’re in contempt of court. This is a serious offence and Yorkshire Housing will need to return to the courts to seek a further trial which is called a committal hearing. The penalties for breaking an injunction are a fine, or prison sentence, or both. The evidence must be detailed and convincing. It is almost certain that if you have witnessed any breaches you will be needed to give evidence in front of the judge. What other outcomes are possible at Court? Possession – We can ask the court to evict a tenant because of their antisocial behaviour or that of someone living with or visiting them. Such a case can last several days. You’ll almost certainly have to answer questions from the perpetrator’s solicitor. The judge may ask you questions too. The judge listens to the evidence and decides if the possession can go ahead. There are three possible outcomes: • Immediate possession – the tenant has to move out within a certain time decided by the judge – usually no more than 28 days. • Postponed possession – the judge sets a time period (usually two years) when the tenant must not repeat their behaviour. If they do, we can go back to court and ask for immediate possession. • Demotion Order – the judge decides to remove the security of the perpetrator’s tenancy for a minimum period of 12 months. During this period if there are further breaches, Yorkshire Housing can evict the tenant without having to go back to the courts.   After the trial Yorkshire Housing understands that for some witnesses the case does not end with a trial, but only when the perpetrators have stopped their antisocial behaviour or harassment. We will continue our support, advice and our legal actions until the problems have stopped. We will keep in regular contact with you until the case can be formally closed.   Words & phrases used in Court Affidavit – A written description of events that a witness must swear or affirm is true in court. Affirm – Confirm the truth or something in court – a non-religious alternative to swearing an oath. Barrister – A legal representative who is experienced in presenting or defending cases in front of the judge. Claimant – The person or organisation bringing the legal case to Court (in this case it would be Yorkshire Housing) Committal Hearing – A court case held to decide if the Defendant has ignored or broken a Court Order such as an injunction. Contempt of Court or Disobeying the Court – Breaking a Court Order is a serious criminal offence. The judge can send the Defendant to prison for up to 5 years, or fine them, or both. It is also likely that the Association (Yorkshire Housing) will begin eviction proceedings as well. County Court – The court where a civil case is heard. Most of Yorkshire Housing’s actions are in the County Court. The police often use the Magistrates Court for criminal cases. Defendant – The person Yorkshire Housing is bringing the case against (usually the perpetrator). Incident Diary – Detailed and accurate written accounts of incidents of antisocial behaviour and harassment are vital to build strong evidence. Yorkshire Housing will provide you with a number of Incident Diaries that are forms to help you record the time and date and details of each incident, which you will then sign. Injunction – An order from a court that tells someone to stop doing a certain thing or to do a certain thing Perpetrator – The person causing the antisocial behaviour or harassment. Power of Arrest – The police are given the authority to arrest the Defendant if they “reasonably believe” the Court Order has been broken. The judge will grant such a power if there is significant risk of harm to others. Solicitor – An experienced lawyer acting on behalf of Yorkshire Housing (Claimant) from the very beginning of the case. Statement – A written record of events based on the incident diary that the witness signs as true. In Committal hearings, the witness will swear an affidavit in front of a court employee. Suspended Sentence – A prison sentence that is only enforced if the perpetrator breaks a further court order within a time set by the judge. Swear on Oath – Confirm the truth of something in court – done on a bible or other religious book. Tenancy Agreement – The legal contract of rules between the landlord and a tenant. Undertaking – A solemn promise made to the court by a perpetrator to do a certain thing, or not do something.   Support for Victims & Witnesses We always treat your report as confidential. Many victims and witnesses feel too frightened and intimidated to report problems or to be witnesses in any legal action. This section sets out what you can do to overcome these fears and what support Yorkshire Housing can offer. Close and Regular Contact – We will keep in very close touch with you. You will be provided with a direct Case Worker, their direct telephone number and a guarantee to respond to calls within 24 hrs. Your Case Worker will contact you once a week to keep you informed of all progress. CCTV and Sound Recording Equipment – We have a supply of discreet camera equipment that can be installed in your home to help protect property and monitor further incidents. We also have our own sound recording equipment to record noise at times when the office is shut. Out of Hours Service – We provide witness support at weekends whereby our experienced members of staff can contact you by telephone at pre-arranged times to offer support and advice and to take details of any further incident. Physical Security Measures – Victims and witnesses can have improved security for their property such as: extra locks fitted to doors and windows; a security light; letter box grill; the loan of a mobile phone. Vulnerable Marker – We work closely with the police, helping them identify priority cases and placing “flags” on their computers so police officers respond quickly to the address of any witness and victim of antisocial behaviour and harassment. Going to Court – If you are acting as a witness, Yorkshire Housing will provide a leaflet explaining what will happen; we will take you to and from the Court and we will ensure you don’t have to share any waiting area with the perpetrator. Injunctions and Antisocial Behaviour Orders – If the victim or witness is directly threatened or faces increased problems because of their help in the case, Yorkshire Housing will seek urgent Injunctions to prevent further incidents. These have been very successful in the past. Resident Support Group – The best support comes from those victims and witnesses who have successfully resolved their problems with Yorkshire Housing’s help. Former victims are able and willing to telephone you, to listen to your problems and provide independent support through this very difficult time.   What you can do • Report all serious incidents to Yorkshire Housing and the police immediately • Keep good written records of each incident with the help of incident diaries • Talk with neighbours and other victims • Come along to our residents’ Antisocial Behaviour & Harassment Focus Group • Contact your local Health Authority for counselling • Keep in touch with your Neighbourhood Officer at Yorkshire Housing

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