Tackling Antisocial Behaviour
Both the voluntary and statutory agencies offer the practical measures available to remedy antisocial behaviour in our communities. These interventions can be directed for:
- Early Intervention
Such measures ensure that the quality of life of communities is preserved by taking action, thereby reducing the likelihood of antisocial behaviour becoming a problem. Preventative measures which can be employed are:
Intelligence Led Policing - This is a pro-active approach to policing where Police resources can be directed specifically at areas of identified problems of crime and disorder. Decisions are made on the basis of need and the use of services are effectively targeted where need is greatest.
Registration of Landlords - The registration of landlords will provide information regarding the private letting of properties in Scotland. It will focus on the suitability of the landlord and any agent they use. The register will comprise of two elements:
- details of any person who wishes to register, and of any agent that person uses for managing the property;
- the addresses of all houses let by a landlord, whether at the time of their registration or afterwards.
It will be an offence for a landlord who should be registered to let a property without being registered.
Education for Excluded Children - The Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004, gives power to Children’s Hearings, where the local authority are failing to provide education to excluded pupils, to require the Principal Reporter to refer the matter to the Scottish Ministers. The Reporter shall comply with any requirement made by the hearing.
Community Support - The Scottish Executive have been explicit regarding some aspects of community support they would like to see in place locally. These include Community Wardens, with a role in supporting crime prevention and environmental concerns, and also mediation services, which will aim to prevent antisocial behaviour escalating within communities.
Diversion – Without the provision of education, personal development, citizenship and activities for people to become involved with, antisocial behaviour would be a much wider problem than it is. The role that agencies and the voluntary sector have in preventing unacceptable behaviour, and of supporting people to develop to their full potential, requires support and recognition.
Physical Design Measures – The planning and regeneration of communities, follows guidelines ensuring that consideration is given to the types of landscapes and housing provided. Planning Advice Note (PAN 46) from the Scottish Office 1994, states that:
‘…the planning process does not require particularly sophisticated or obtrusive measures but a number of general principles can be applied in considering the location, layout and design of a new development which can prove effective in reducing crime and enhancing personal and community safety.’
This can produce rapid results and can have the effect of stopping antisocial behaviour before it takes over a community. Such interventions available are:
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC’s) - A written, voluntary agreement between an individual involved in antisocial behaviour and any relevant agencies, setting out the behaviour that the person has agreed to stop and the supports that are available to help stop the behaviour. ABC’s can be used by any relevant agency outwith the Court or Children’s Hearing process, and can be a diversion from these processes. A model of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, which can be used, will be included in the policies and procedures manual.
Dispersal of Groups - Police have power, exercised through a senior officer, to disperse groups of two or more persons. Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any member of the public has been alarmed or distressed as a result of the presence or behaviour of these persons and the antisocial behaviour is a significant, persistent and serious problem in the area. The use of this power requires consultation with the local authority and must comply with the provisions of the legislation.
Intensive Support and Monitoring Service (ISMS) - This service, more commonly known as “electronic tagging” is now available for young people under the age of 16 years. This will be as part of a package of support measures and is referred to as Intensive Support and Monitoring Service (ISMS). This measure can only be used as an alternative to secure accommodation and is subject to the same conditions. The conditions for applying these measures, and the support available, will be available in the policy and procedures manual.
Housing Antisocial Behaviour Notices - Antisocial Behaviour Notices are available for local authorities to serve on landlords of relevant premises where the occupier or visitors of the premises are engaged in antisocial behaviour. These notices give responsibility and accountability to landlords for intervention in antisocial behaviour and “fill the gap” to ensure landlords take responsibility for their properties.
Data Sharing – Agencies must work together to share information effectively. This can be effective in ensuring that work tackles antisocial behaviour at the earliest possible opportunity, rather than when it is a community issue.
Mediation – Mediation can provide very effective early resolution to “low level” anti social behaviour. Trained Comhairle staff or a designated independent facility can provide the service.
Legal enforcement can be used in appropriate circumstances. It is commonly an intervention, about which the community involved is aware. In addition to previous options enforcement provisions such as breach of the peace procedures and evictions new powers cover.
Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBO’s) - over 16 years - A civil preventative measure to address persistent antisocial behaviour. Applications for ASBO’s are made through the Sheriff Court by a local authority or Registered Social Landlord for an order that contains conditions prohibiting the person named from doing anything specified in the order. This can relate to any form of behaviour from verbal abuse to prohibiting entry to a defined area. These orders are not criminal penalties and are intended to prevent behaviour and not as punishment, however, breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence.
Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBO’s) - under 16 years - A civil preventative measure targeted at young people 12 –15 years of age. The ASBO will complement work being undertaken with the young person through the Children’s Hearing system. The order, like those for over 16’s is a civil measure, which seeks to prevent behaviour. Breach of this order is also criminal. The process for application for an order for under 16 years varies from the over 16’s. Consideration for the application of such an order must be through a Children’s Hearing. The process to be used in the Outer Hebrides will be detailed in the policy and procedures manual.
Parenting Orders - Parenting Orders can be applied for to the Sheriff Court by the local authority or Principal Reporter. An order requires the specified person (parent) to comply with such requirements as imposed by the court for a specified period. The court can make these orders when it is satisfied that the child is engaged in antisocial behaviour, or criminal conduct, or where an order is desirable in the interests of the welfare of the child. Prior to either the local authority or the Reporter making an application they must consult with each other. The policy and procedures manual will outline the procedures in place.
Closure of Premises - Closure Notices
The purpose of a Closure Notice is to alert those using the property in question of the intention to apply to the court for a Closure Order. This gives information of the impending closure of premises, which have been the location of persistent antisocial behaviour.
Closure notices can be authorised by senior police officers prohibiting access to premises by any person other than a person who habitually resides in the premises, or the owner of the premises.
Where a Closure Notice has been served on any premises in circumstances provided for by the Act, an application for aClosure Order must be made to the Sheriff Court no later than the first court day after the day on which the notice was served. The circumstances and process for the use of these measures will be detailed in the policies and procedures manual.
Noise Nuisance - The local authority has a duty to investigate complaints of noise nuisance in terms of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This gives power to the local authority to serve statutory notices requiring abatement of the noise. Northern Constabulary also have powers to deal with noise/amplified music under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.The Noise Nuisance Protocol contained at The policies and procedures manual will outline the procedures in place between Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Northern Constabulary.
The Antisocial Behaviour etc. ( Scotland) Act 2004 gives power for local authorities to designate certain areas to take action in. This would entail the employment of Noise Response Teams. This was explored and a decision made not to employ such a team. This was made on the basis of the number of complaints made across the Outer Hebrides and the geography of the area which would make a 24 hour a day response team impractical. This decision will be kept under review.
Control of Waste and Litter - The local authority has powers to issue fixed penalty notices for littering and fly-tipping. These fixed penalty fines are set at £50. Where an incident of fly-tipping is reported to the Procurator Fiscal the scale of fines increases to an increased maximum of £40,000.
Local authorities have also been given the powers to inspect Waste Transfer Notes arising from operations conducted at commercial premises. Police powers for enforcing litter legislation still remain and can be acted on as previously.
Seizure of Vehicles - Where vehicles are used in a manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance the 2004 Act gives power to Police to seize the vehicle under certain conditions. The Police must have reasonable cause to believe the vehicle was used contrary to certain provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and following a warning the behaviour continued.
Graffiti - The local authority now has power to serve graffiti removal notices. Where a relevant surface, defined in the Act, has been defaced by graffiti and the defacement is detrimental to the amenity of the locality, or offensive, the local authority may serve graffiti removal notices on any responsible person. This notice requires the person on whom it is served to remedy the defacement within a period of 28 days.
Sale of Spray Paint to Children - This creates an offence for the sale of any spray paint device to any person under the age of 16 years. The terms of the Act are aimed particularly at trading standards officers and allow for the local authority to authorise trading standards officers to enforce the legislation. It gives power of entry, inspection and seizure; Police can also enforce the ban through their common law powers.
Where antisocial behaviour has occurred and other interventions tried with little response, the enforcement option then has to be applied. Following this option it is essential that further measures are then available to rehabilitate offenders and prevent them continuing with their antisocial behaviour. Rehabilitation interventions include:
Community Reparation Orders – A court can impose a Community Reparation Order where an offender has been convicted of an offence involving antisocial behaviour to any extent. The reparation order can be imposed for a period of up to 100 hours and must involve a programme of activities designed to enable reparation to be made or to reduce the likelihood of persons engaging in such behaviour in the future.
Restriction of Liberty Orders (RLO) - Restriction of Liberty Orders are available to the court and may be imposed to restrict the movement of an offender to such extent as the court thinks fit. It may require an offender to be in a place as may be specified for such a period or it may prevent the offender from being in such places at such times as specified by the order. However, the court may not require the offender to be in any one place or places for a period or periods totalling more than 12 hours in any one day.
For an offender under the age of 16 years, the court must not make a RLO unless it is satisfied by the services, which will be provided for the young person’s support and rehabilitation during the period they are subject to the order, by the local authority.
Short Scottish Secure Tenancies - The Housing ( Scotland) Act 2001 introduced the Short Scottish Secured Tenancy (SSST), which focuses on changing behaviour.
The use of these tenancies may be appropriate under certain circumstances and may be valuable following legal action in respect of antisocial behaviour. This option protects the rights of other residents whilst providing support to the tenant on an SSST.