My interest in this area led me to be elected on to the LGA Safer Communities Board where recently I had the chance to meet Louise Casey, Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses. She has some straightforward, common-sense things to say which I think government(s) have need to hear.
As a landlord, Reading Borough Council has a responsiblity to protect its tenants from anti-social behaviour and to tackle tenants who cause a nuisance to others. As a Lead Member for Housing I take a keen interest in action the Council is taking in this area and I am always looking for ways we can improve our response to nuisance issues for the benefit of tenants.
Today the Coalition Government launched it's review of anti-social behaviour powers. I am particularly interested in new so-called 'Community Triggers' these are described as follows:
And 'Community Protection Orders'
"community triggers where local agencies will be compelled to take action if several people in the same neighbourhood have complained and no action had been taken; or the behaviour in question has been reported to the authorities by an individual three times, and no action had been taken"
"community protection orders - comprising one order for local authorities to stop persistent environmental ASB like graffiti, neighbour noise or dog fouling; and another for police and local authorities to deal with more serious disorder and criminality in a specific place such as closing a property used for drug dealing"New powers are also contained in the Home Office document to develop social housing provider's powers to deal with anti-social tenants. I will be looking at these closely.
As a local councillor when it comes to asb I have been most involved over the years in issues where members of the community have become completely exasperated by lack of action either from the local Council and or the Police to what might to some people be viewed as low level anti-social behaviour, but to them has really damaged their quality of life.
A good example of this is nuisance caused by mini-motos but another is repeated dog fouling of public spaces by thoughtless dog owners. I am not a legal expert so I cannot comment on whether or not these new proposed new powers would be 100% effective but if they made local agencies more responsive to anti-social behaviour issues in neighbourhoods I would welcome them.
One of the areas I have been most involved is on the issue crime reporting and the under-reporting of crime. As Louise Casey pointed out when I met her, 80% of crimes go unreported and you have to ask yourself why that is. So I am pleased to see the Government piloting a new approach to responding to complaints about anti-social behaviour because in the past I have known people to totally give up reporting crime because of the poor response they have received.
I am also pleased to see a commitment in the consultation paper to finding a cost-effective way to implement a single national non-emergency number for reporting anti-social behaviour - to enable ease of reporting for the public.
The consultation is open for 12 weeks. Have your say here and help improve the response to anti-social behaviour from councils and the Police.
I was pleased to read in the document a commitment to include more use of restorative justice. This is a positve step and has long been Liberal Democrat policy. When piloted for example in Somerset (when it was Lib Dem controlled) community justice panels which involved offenders meeting their victims were shown to cut reoffending.