New powers to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) came into effect between October 2014 and March 2015. The Anti-Social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014 that brought in these powers sought to simplify the “toolkit” available to agencies to tackle ASB as well as to put victims at the centre of the approach in this area.
ASB has long been a priority issue for councils, and London’s boroughs have been at the forefront of developing and implementing effective measures to tackle what is a blight on the lives of many individuals and families in the capital.
This briefing page sets out some of the key elements of the new powers available to councils; examines how these have been implemented in London one year on from their introduction; and presents examples of how risk and vulnerability are managed in relation to ASB.
ASB is behaviour that can cause distress, nuisance or harassment to others; it could also in certain cases cause annoyance. It includes vandalism, graffiti, and threatening behaviour, dumping rubbish and joyriding, although actions such as vandalism, graffiti, selling drugs or harassment are ultimately crimes and should be dealt with as such.
Some behaviour, such as a neighbour playing the radio loudly, may seem insignificant as a one off, but can have a serious negative impact if part of a persistent pattern of behaviour. And, as we know, this type of behaviour is often directed at the most vulnerable members of our society, which has at times led to the most tragic of consequences. ASB can also prevent parts of London from being improved and developed.
The wide range of crimes and behaviours covered by the term ASB necessitates a multi- agency response including lead organisations such as housing providers, police, fire service and local authorities; it has also historically meant a large ‘tool kit’ of responses to deal with the issue. This tool kit has now been stripped down and simplified.
The new ASB tools and powers give organisations additional legal and punitive approaches to tackling anti-social behaviour. Prior to the new act coming into force, the police, local authorities and other relevant agencies had 19 specific mechanisms at their disposal to tackle ASB. The act has sought to replace these remedies with six new powers that are intended to be flexible and, at the same time, robust enough, to deal with the wide range of ASB affecting communities.
|1. Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)||→||Part 1 Civil Injunction|
|2. Drinking Banning Order (DBO)|
|3. Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI)|
|4. Individual Support Order|
|5. Intervention Order|
|6. ASBO on conviction||→||Criminal Behaviour Order (CPN)|
|7. DBO on conviction|
|8. Litter Cleaning Notice||→||Community Protection Notice (PSPO)|
|9. Street Cleaning Notice|
|10. Graffiti / Defacement Removal Notice|
|11. Designated Public Place Order||→||New Closure Order|
|12. Gating Order|
|13. Dog Control Order|
|14. ASB Premises Closure Order||→||New Closure Power|
|15. Crack House Closure Order|
|16. Noisy Premises Closure Order|
|17. Section 161 Closure Order|
|18. Section 30 Dispersal Order||→||Dispersal Powers|
|19. Section 27 Direction to Leave|
The six powers established under the act are still new and it will take some time for them to be used daily by relevant organisations. They are, however, being implemented widely across London, with most boroughs having used one or more of the new powers or about to implement them. Early indications show that practitioners like the new powers and are willing to use them, especially on new or emerging issues. Where they have been used; feedback is confirming that they are having an immediate effect in reducing anti-social behaviour that has had an adverse impact of many of London’s communities for so long.
Tackling ASB has been largely been promoted from the top down and from the centre. The new legislation aims to shift more of the drive against ASB to the local level, including enabling communities to play a bigger role in tackling the problem, through the Community Trigger and Community Remedy. There have been more Community Trigger activations in London than anywhere else in England and Wales and local partnerships are seeing them as a positive approach to scrutinising local partnership working.
The act also marks a clear move to focus more on the needs of the victim, and this has certainly been informed by tragic cases such as Fiona Pilkington who took her own life and that of her daughter Francecca Hardwick in October 2007; and that of Dr Suzanne Dow who took her own life in October 2011. Both these cases contained repeated calls to relevant agencies concerning serious and persistent anti-social behaviour, as well as grave failings in appropriate response to support the victims. In London, most boroughs have adopted a harm centred approach to ASB, prioritising those who are most vulnerable and at risk of being a repeat victim.
The ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is designed to shift the focus from centrally set targets, and the type of behaviour, to looking at the impacts on the lives of victims. Key components in the “putting victims first” approach are the Community Trigger and Community Remedy. These two tools also carry statutory duties for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), which in London’s case are carried out by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
The Community Trigger gives victims and communities the right to request a review of their case, where they feel they did not get a satisfactory response, and brings agencies together to take a joined-up approach to find a solution. The relevant agencies, including the local authority, are required to carry out a case review if an application for a review has been made and the local threshold for a review has been met. The review threshold is set by relevant partners, which may include councils, the police, Clinical Commissioning Groups and registered providers of social housing.
Local agencies are able to define the Community Trigger threshold level for their area, in consultation with the PCC, as long as it is not more than three complaints in the previous six-month period. London boroughs have worked with MOPAC to agree a shared level for the Community Trigger across London:
Victims of ASB can apply to activate the Trigger if they have reported ASB to the council, police or a registered housing provider three times in the last six months.
London is seen as the lead area of the country by many for early utilisation and implementation of the new ASB tools and powers. These powers are being used creatively, wisely and with full community safety partnership, involvement and co-operation. Vulnerability is still seen as a priority as is the effect of mental health in ASB cases (both on “perpetrator” and “victim” sides). London is devising its own definition of vulnerability and the MPS is taking the lead for rolling out a new complex case procedure that is being adopted by a number of London boroughs – the Community Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (Community MARAC). This approach has already proved successful in reducing complex and high risk cases through a problem solving approach.
The importance of a harm-centred approach is continuing to be a priority at both a strategic and operational level. Many lessons have been learnt about effective case management, new I.T. systems which are now available and improving the effectiveness of partnership working in ASB and other high profile areas. These systems are now being adopted or being investigated to improve the quality of information sharing and cooperation in tackling complex issues. Effectively tackling and preventing ASB will always be a priority for London and London’s boroughs can proudly say that it is one area where there has been continuous improvement; whether through the reduction of incidents or the perceptions local people have of it.
London boroughs with their own examples of new and successful approaches to using the new toolkit are invited to submit further examples to this evolving resource. Please email: [email protected]