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Anti-social behaviour

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Introduction
DASH aims to deliver an individual service to people with a supported housing need or in housing difficulty which makes a real difference to people’s lives and also affordable homes in local communities as a Registered Provider of Social Housing.
We want to make sure that the communities in which we have housing are secure and peaceful places to live. Our residents have a right to live their lives in their own way but we will take action when this affects the quality of life of other people or our properties. We will also work with other agencies to take action when our residents are affected by the behaviour of people who are not our residents.
We believe that to be effective in our approach we need to have a balance of preventative, enforcement and supportive measures in place. This involves working with a range of partners making the best use of the powers available as well as using our own internal resources in the most effective way.
Aims
This policy aims to support our anti-social behaviour (ASB) strategy to manage antisocial behaviour by;

  • Raising awareness of how to report ASB and what DASH and others can do to address it
  • Encouraging and supporting neighbours to resolve issues between themselves where appropriate
  • Responding proportionately 
  • Putting victims first by considering from the outset the effect of ASB on victims and any risk to them 
  • Taking a problem-solving approach for each individual case in order to deliver effective case management 
  • Developing and maintaining effective partnerships with other agencies with whom we work with to tackle ASB 
  • Assessing the potential risk for ASB with new residents and putting appropriate preventative measures in place 
  • Adhering to all relevant legislative and regulatory requirements

What is Anti-Social Behaviour?

‘Anti-social behaviour’ is a broad term but for the purposes of this policy we mean behaviour that:

  • is capable of causing a nuisance or annoyance to any person; and
  • which directly or indirectly relates to or affects the landlord’s housing management functions; or
  • conduct which consists of, or involves using or threatening to use, housing accommodation owned or managed by the landlord for an unlawful purpose.

The above bullet points set out the legal definition of ASB. In practice, some judgement needs to be exercised in deciding what amounts to ASB in individual situations. In the rest of this document we explain how we will exercise that judgement and our overall approach to dealing with ASB.
The term ‘housing management function’ within the above definition is a wide one which covers anything undertaken by DASH as part of our day to day or strategic management of our stock. Examples include collecting rents, carrying out repairs, managing our neighbourhoods and also our support activities.
We also consider hate crime and harassment to be capable of being anti-social behaviour and such matters will be considered by DASH within the framework of this policy.
DASH accepts that neighbours will naturally have different values or opinions and that sometimes this can cause problems. We expect our residents to show consideration for their neighbours as well as understanding that we all have a right to live our lives. However not all reports relating to behaviour which impacts on an individual can be deemed anti-social behaviour.
It is equally important to show tolerance and to be respectful of differing lifestyles and circumstances. What’s the difference?
We regard any activity that impacts on other people in a negative way and interferes with a person’s right to live peacefully in their home and in the surrounding area as ASB. Different people may be distressed or alarmed by different types of behaviour and activity. We will not always get involved in everything that is reported to us as causing a nuisance.
Whether we consider an activity to be anti-social will depend on a number of things including how severely it is affecting others, how regularly it is happening, the vulnerability of the alleged victim or victims and whether the behaviour reported could be considered unreasonable. The impact of anti-social behaviour upon others is an important element in determining our response but it is not the only consideration.
Whilst we will always aim to put victims first, we recognise that not every neighbour dispute or complaint will involve ASB and it is important that we investigate any reports of ASB fully before rushing to any conclusions about who is the victim and who is the perpetrator.
Each case will be considered individually and on its own facts and our response will be one which is both reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.
Examples of ASB could include:

  • violence or threats of violence
  • hate crime and harassment
  • aggressive and threatening behaviour
  • domestic abuse
  • criminal activity
  • noise nuisance
  • damage to property

Examples of what might not be considered ASB could include: 

  • Noise from children when they’re playing
  • Family disputes
  • Sounds of normal living that we can hear such as opening and closing doors
  • One-off parties or celebrations provided that they don’t cause an unacceptable disturbance to others
  • Lifestyle clashes
  • Minor personal differences such as dirty looks or falls out between children
  • Disagreements about parking

We will work to manage resident’s expectations in regards to behaviour that is not deemed anti-social. We will offer advice and guidance to encourage and enable them to deal with or to manage the situation for themselves.
What we expect of our residents
We expect our tenants to behave appropriately and not to commit or allow their family, household members, visitors or pets to commit acts of anti-social behaviour. This includes harassment, noise nuisance, annoyance or disturbance, whether to other residents, their visitors or other people in the area including DASH staff and contractors working on our behalf.
These expectations are clearly set out in the occupation agreement we have with our residents and are fully explained to all new residents at sign-up.
In addition we positively encourage all residents in areas where we have properties to:

  • take responsibility for minor personal disputes with their neighbours and to try to resolve any such problems themselves in the first instance in a reasonable manner
  • respect other people at all times
  • co-operate with DASH when seeking to resolve problems

We will also assess the risk of the potential impact of ASB prior to the commencement of an occupancy. For the majority of lettings this will not be a factor, but in situations where, due to an applicant’s housing or life history, their relative vulnerability, and where there have been recent or on-going issues within a neighbourhood, additional measures may be appropriate. This may include “tailored” occupancies to include requirements for support or other provisions to reduce the risk of occupancy failure.
Service Standards
In recognition of our widespread geographical area we have adopted the following service standards for responding to reports of anti-social behaviour;

  • 1 working day for serious incidents of ASB that directly impacts on an individual or household and is likely to result in further damage, abuse or violence
  • 5 working days for all other reports of ASB which may have a direct impact on an individual or household

For all other reports received which are non-personal in nature but can affect the environment we allow up to 10 working days for our staff to respond.
Initial contact will in most cases take place over the phone at which point the Housing Worker will agree the next steps which need to be taken with the victim.
Support
We aim to create sustainable communities and an environment where victims and witnesses feel confident and safe in coming forward to report anti-social behaviour.
We will do this by:

  • Dealing with their reports promptly
  • Training our staff to deal with initial reports in a sensitive and customer focussed manner
  • Carrying out risk assessments and referring them to appropriate support services where necessary
  • Managing their expectations and being realistic about what we can and can’t do
  • Involving them in discussions about the action we will take to resolve their issue
  • Communicating with them by their preferred method and at a frequency we can deliver
  • Providing good, regular up-to-date information on the progress of cases; and
  • Offering assistance with re-housing, in high risk cases, where we are satisfied that it is reasonable and necessary to protect the individual

DASH understands that we cannot always prevent people becoming repeat victims of anti-social behaviour; therefore, it is important we ensure that there is a suitable and appropriate support network around everyone to enable them to manage their situation until a satisfactory resolution is achieved.
It is equally important to offer support to perpetrators of anti-social behaviour to assist them to resolve problems on a long term basis. However, in some cases we may opt to proceed immediately to legal action without offering any such support.
Our response
The vast majority of ASB reports will not require legal action and will be effectively resolved through early intervention by our staff. Early intervention may include verbal and written warnings or the use of behavioural agreements.

Our response to allegations of anti-social behaviour will at all times be reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances. Each case will turn upon its own facts and what we do in one case does not automatically mean that we will adopt the same approach in another.
We also aim to provide a balanced approach, protecting the quiet enjoyment of the community while helping individuals to sustain their occupancies by addressing their behaviour.
We firmly believe that in many incidences the anti-social behaviour can be addressed when challenged early enough and without recourse to legal action.
Legal action may be taken in cases where non-legal remedies have failed to provide a lasting solution and it is considered reasonable to do so. Again, each case will turn upon its own facts.
Partnership working
DASH recognises that dealing with anti-social behaviour is not the sole responsibility of any single agency. We are part of the wider community and share the problems and challenges of our community. Partnership working is vital if we are to deal effectively with the incidence of, causes of and consequences of anti-social behaviour within our communities.
We work with a variety of partners including the Police and Local Authorities in areas where we have stock and will actively participate in any community trigger requests for example.
Confidentiality, Data protection and information sharing
Whilst we respect privacy and confidentiality and are mindful of our obligations under the Data Protection Act 1988, tackling anti-social behaviour requires robust information exchange between statutory and non-statutory agencies.
We will also share information with other relevant agencies where appropriate and will actively participate in partnership arrangements to safeguard young people and vulnerable adults.
When dealing with anti-social behaviour, hate crime and domestic abuse, full consideration will be given to our safeguarding responsibilities.
Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only. The correct information must be stored securely with limited access to the designated people and only for the required time period, in line with General Data Protection Regulations and the DASH Confidentiality Policy.
Legal and Regulatory Framework
Homes England Neighbourhood and Community Standard for ASB require Registered Providers to work in partnership with other agencies to prevent and tackle ASB in the neighbourhoods where they own homes
The legal framework for dealing with anti-social behaviour is wide-ranging. Some of the more important pieces of legislation we work with include the following:

  • Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Housing Acts 1988 and 1996
  • Housing and Regeneration Act 2008
  • Equality Act 2010

Performance Monitoring
Overall responsibility for this policy rests with the DASH Management Committee. Day to day oversight is provided by the Management Team.
As part of our commitment to continuous improvement we will monitor satisfaction levels and use feedback to improve our service. These are fed back to trustees as appropriate and feed back to our customers will be given.
Publicity
Our policy will be explained to residents at sign up and a copy provided.