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Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 03/03/2003
Anti-Social Behaviour and Harassment for Tenants of Waverley Borough Council



To consider the draft policy statement on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants of Waverley Borough Council as a basis for consultation with tenants through Waverley Homes (the Council’s newsletter for tenants). There are financial and resource issues in respect of the proposed policy, which it is intended would be contained within budget estimates.
APPENDIX J

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

MEMBERS/TENANTS’ SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP - 8TH JANUARY 2003

EXECUTIVE – 4TH FEBRUARY 2003

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 3RD MARCH 2003



Title:

CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT POLICY STATEMENT ON
ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR AND HARASSMENT FOR TENANTS OF
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and Purpose

To consider the draft policy statement on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants of Waverley Borough Council as a basis for consultation with tenants through Waverley Homes (the Council’s newsletter for tenants). There are financial and resource issues in respect of the proposed policy, which it is intended would be contained within budget estimates.

[This reproduces the original report which was presented to the Member/Tenants’ SIG in January 2003. The recommendation of the SIG to the Executive and the decision of the Executive on 4th February is contained at Annexe 1. As part of the consultation referred to above, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is now asked for its views on the policy statement.]



Introduction

1. 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 attached (Annexe 2) draft policy statement on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants demonstrates the Council’s commitment as landlord to preventing and dealing with such behaviour.

Background

2. 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 this draft. This draft policy deals with a number of issues raised by tenants as part of the Vulnerable Tenants report.

3. This policy is consistent with the commitment given by the Council in the “Equal Opportunities in Service Delivery” statement (as updated at the meeting of the Executive on 5th February 2002), to ensure equality of service delivery.

The Key Policy Statement

4. 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.

5. 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.

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

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

Human Rights Implications

10. 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

11. 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

12. 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

13. It is important that such an important policy which can have such an impact on tenants lives is fully considered and fully endorsed by all those involved. This draft policy on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants developed by Officers with support from the Tenants’ Panel is presented for consideration by Members before final consultation with tenants through Waverley Homes, the Council’s newsletter for all tenants.

Recommendation

The SIG is recommended to consider and comment on the draft policy on anti-social behaviour and harassment for tenants before commending to tenants for final consultation through Waverley Homes.

[Note: The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is asked to refer to Annexe 1 of this report.]



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/o&s2/2002-03/114
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