Anti Social Behaviour back in spotlight as Prime Minister voices views

Article

05 November, 2009

During the Not In My Neighbourhood Week, running from 2-6 November 2009, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has voiced his views on where there should be more focus in the battle to tackle anti social behaviour. He told an audience in Shoreditch that the three areas that needed to be taken on were reducing the public fear of crimes of this type, providing more support and information to victims and using the Family Intervention Programme to work with problematic individuals.

This event is just the latest in a series of functions which has placed the issue of anti social behaviour at the forefront of public attention in recent weeks.

Not In My Neighbourhood Week

The key objective of the week is to inform local people of action taking place in their area to tackle crime, deal with anti social behaviour and generally make the community a safer place. Examples of projects being carried out in the 2009 event include:

  • Calderdale Fire and Rescue Service visiting schools during the week to raise awareness of bonfire safety and the dangers of fire;
  • Thames Valley Police undertaking Operation Confidence which sees local police areas running operations to target issues like drunken behaviour and violence, criminal damage and other acts which impact upon the quality of life of residents; and
  • Salford Community Safety Unit has produced a DVD of the work carried out by the local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership to improve the life of the local community.

It is hoped that the scheme will raise awareness of the work being done to tackle anti social behaviour across the country and encourage the public to participate in challenging this kind of conduct.

Justice Seen Justice Done programme

Another policy that was mentioned in the question and answer session was the role of the Justice Seen Justice Done programme, where those convicted of acts of anti social behaviour and other offenders are required to undertake community work for a set number of hours. The distinctive element of this strategy is said to be placing the offenders in high-visibility orange jackets marked 'Community Payback'. Those taking part in the programme are ordered to carry out work that benefits the community as a whole, such as clearing undergrowths, removing graffiti or repairing community centres.

The programme is said to have been used on a regular basis in 2008/09, over 62,000 offenders participated in the scheme which meant that over 8 million hours of work were undertaken to the value of over £45 million.

Family Intervention Projects

In the past year, Family Intervention Projects (FIP) are said to have been used to help around 2,300 families to work towards addressing and ending their anti social behaviour. It was also announced in July 2009 that due to the initial success of FIPs, the Department of Health will provide £6m to fund dedicated health workers who will alongside every FIP in the country over the next two years. The role of the health worker will be to assess and deal with the families' underlying health problems, for example alcohol or drug abuse, in order to ensure they get the specific support they need.

The projects will help around 1,500 families per year. FIPs are targeted at specific types of household, who have been involved in anti-social behaviour and been in contact with a range of organisations and bodies concerned with its prevention. They operate by bringing all of these agencies together and nominating a single 'key worker' for the family. This role co-ordinates and oversees the support offered and the input of each body, to work towards the same objective of rehabilitation.

Normally, the family in question will agree a contract with the FIP which will state the expectations of all the parties and the support to be made available to achieve them. Arguably the most important factor is the use of sanctions which can ultimately lead to the ending of the project and the family's eviction from the property if sufficient progress is not made. For the families concerned, this risk can bring into real focus the significance of adhering to the FIP's terms.

There are three major types of FIP: Residential work, Dispersed Tenancies and Outreach work. It should be noted that not all local FIPs will use all of these forms or may operate a mixture. Although each has seen its own success, the dispersed tenancy and residential provision arguably have the advantage of removing the family from their tenancy, which can provide relief to aggrieved neighbours and break the links that have helped to ensure these individuals continue acting anti-socially.

Summary

Schemes such as these help to keep the problems that anti social behaviour bring firmly in the minds of the general public. By engaging with these programmes and by assisting in their operation, those who are involved in tackling anti social behaviour (such as social landlords and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships) can have more tools at their disposal to prevent this conduct in the future.

For more information and assistance on these issues, please contact the Housing Litigation Department at Forbes Solicitors on 01772 220200 or contact Stuart Penswick by email.

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