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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 01/04/2003
POLICY ON ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND HARASSMENT FOR TENANTS OF WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL



The purpose of this report is to give consideration to recommending the Council to formally adopt the Draft Policy Statement on Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants of Waverley Borough Council. There are financial and resource issues in respect of the proposed policy which it is intended would be contained within budget estimates. There are other implications which are referred to in the report.
APPENDIX K

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE - 1ST APRIL 2003

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Title:
POLICY ON ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND HARASSMENT FOR
TENANTS OF WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

[Wards Affected: All]
________________________________________________________________________

Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to give consideration to recommending the Council to formally adopt the Draft Policy Statement on Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants of Waverley Borough Council. There are financial and resource issues in respect of the proposed policy which it is intended would be contained within budget estimates. There are other implications which are referred to in the report.

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Background

1. This matter was the subject of a report to the Member/Tenants’ Special Interest Group (SIG) on 8th January 2003. The Executive considered the matter on 4th February 2003 when it concurred with the view of the SIG and agreed to approve the Draft for the purposes of consultation with tenants through Waverley Homes, the Council's newsletter for all tenants. As part of that consultation process, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee was given the opportunity to make its own observations when it met on 3rd March.

Introduction

2. Anti-social behaviour and harassment cause misery and disruption - the lives of many are blighted by the behaviour of the unreasonable minority. Tenants, the Tenants’ Panel, Officers and Members are all determined that such behaviour is not acceptable for Waverley tenants. The draft policy statement on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants at Annexe 1, demonstrates the Council’s commitment as landlord to preventing and dealing with such behaviour.

History

3. This policy has been developed through a number of workshops with the Tenants Panel, Officers and a joint Tenants’ Panel/Officer workshop held on the 4th December 2002. The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) (now the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, ODPM) produced a consultation paper “Tackling Anti-Social Tenants” and this was also considered in the production of the draft. The policy deals with a number of issues raised by tenants as part of the Vulnerable Tenants report.

4. The policy is consistent with the commitment given by the Council in the “Equal Opportunities in Service Delivery” statement to ensure equality of service delivery.

The Key Policy Statement

5. Tenants, Officers and Councillors believe that tenants and their neighbours should treat others with respect and consideration, with tolerance for each other and different lifestyles.

6. Anti-social behaviour is defined as unreasonable behaviour that interferes with people’s lawful rights to peaceful use and enjoyment of their life, home and community.

7. Harassment is defined as persecution or intimidation of a person or group of people for any reason.

8. This policy describes the principles and approach the Council as landlord will take in regard to Council tenants suffering from or committing anti social behaviour or harassment.

9. The Council will support its tenants’ lawful rights to the peaceful and secure enjoyment of their homes and community by:-

taking action to discourage and prevent anti-social behaviour and harassment

responding to complaints about anti-social behaviour and harassment quickly and in an effective, efficient, sensitive and consistent manner

offering support to the victim or victims and taking action against those responsible

taking special measures where nuisance and harassment involves vulnerable people

taking special measures where anti social behaviour or harassment is of a racial or related nature

working in multi-agency partnership with the Community Incident Action Group (CIAG)

dealing robustly with post eviction and other rehousing applications.

10. This is developed further in the draft policy to identify how the Council will carry out the above.

Human Rights Implications

11. Great care will be taken to keep the information that led to an eviction on a database that can be easily followed up. Such information will be used by the Council in considering whether to accept the application onto the housing register and will be available for any homeless investigations either locally or elsewhere. This will be carried out with due regard for the Data Protection Act 1998 and Human Rights Act 1998, in order to ensure information is only accessible to, and provided to, those who have a legitimate need for it.

Community Safety Implications

12. The Council’s policy and practise in relation to anti-social behaviour and harassment by tenants or affecting tenants is key to the local Crime and Disorder strategy. It demonstrates the Council’s commitment to support tenants and deal robustly with such behaviour and provides the basis under which officers can develop best procedure and practice.

Resource/Environmental implications

13. The resource required is Housing Management officer and Court Officer time with some input from legal officers, external solicitors and barristers, depending on the circumstances and whether a case actually goes to Court. These cases are very time intensive and require great attention to detail in relation to the burden of evidence and the support of victims or witnesses. A recent review of the Court Officer job description has led to more emphasis being placed on anti social behaviour and harassment cases to provide support to all those involved in taking a case to Court.

Conclusion (including views of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee)

14. It is important that an important policy such as this which can have a significant impact on tenants lives is fully considered and fully endorsed by all those involved. Consequently, the draft policy has now been presented to the Member/Tenants’ SIG, the Executive, the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee and to tenants. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee was satisfied with the detail of the policy and had no specific issues it wished to draw to the attention of the Executive. Accordingly, and in light of the fact that there have been no comments of note arising from the consultation through Waverley Homes, it is considered that the policy be formally adopted.

Recommendation

The Executive is recommended to recommend the Council to agree the formal adoption of the policy statement on Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment.

Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mrs Sheila Goodall Telephone: 01483 523355
e-mail: sgoodall@waverley.gov.uk


comms/executive/2002-03/587