Councillor Heesom, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing, introduced the report on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) which had been requested at a previous meeting of the Committee.
The Partnerships Manager and Senior Partnerships Officer presented the report highlighting the following items:
- Background including the legal definition of ASB and examples; how the council worked with partners to manage ASB;
- A snapshot of the local picture which saw new ASB cases in 2020/21 of 461 which was an increase of 26% compared to the previous year. The report set out the complaints by Local Action Partnership Area and by type of complaint with the most common being general nuisance followed by neighbour nuisance.
- Local arrangements to deal with ASB and the powers available to councils; there were various tools to address low level incidents including diversionary activities, verbal and written warnings and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts/Parenting Contracts. There were also a range of formal and legal actions to address more serious incidents. Any criminal activities would be promptly disseminated to the Police.
- The impact of Covid-19 was set out; the council had continued to offer services to victims of ASB and action had continued to be taken against perpetrators. The council had taken action against households who had not complied with Covid restrictions and numerous individuals had been excluded from parts of the Borough, particularly Newcastle town centre.
- Delivery of diversionary activities had been impacted by Covid restrictions. The council was discussing with partners the SPACE scheme for summer 2021 and also working with schools and the County Council to develop activities for young people through the remainder of the year.
- CCTV had been installed in Newcastle town centre, delivered by Stoke on Trent City Council; this was having benefits in reacting to ASB and other crimes.
- The Partnership team were working with the Housing Team and partners including Rough Sleepers Service to tackle perceived issues of ASB involving people with complex needs such as substance misuse, homelessness and mental health. There had been an increase in complaints relating to street drinking and disruptive behaviour and enforcement action had been used for a small number of individuals but only as a last resort.
Members raised a number of queries and issues on the report:
- Issues reported on social media often experienced long delays in getting a response, sometimes there was no response. In light of the increase in ASB and reduced diversionary activities due to the pandemic, were there plans to increase visible patrols through partners. In response, the Committee was informed that the council services operated Monday – Friday between 9.00am – 5.00pm; however, officers worked closely with the Police to identify issues and hotspots and identify where a targeted response would be appropriate. The council would also use complaints information to identify where work should be specifically targeted and who would provide the response this could include Police patrols, signage, outreach, work with housing providers and local schools etc. Officers encouraged residents to report issues and anything other than an emergency could be reported on 101 or through the Police Facebook page.
- Where individuals were excluded from town centres how was this monitored. The exclusions used were under police powers and were time limited. The council also had powers under Community Protection legislation which was outlined and focused on where behaviour had a persistently detrimental impact on the quality of life of individuals. There were some cases that were proceeding towards injunctions. The council would also benefit from measures including CCTV, installation of gates at entrances to locations, removal of buildings all of which helped to tackle ASB.
- Members asked whether there could be publicity about the council’s actions towards tackling ASB? The Partnerships Manager said she was happy to visit businesses on an individual basis and there was good working with the Newcastle BID and work had been carried out with the market.
- Was there any feedback on the CCTV installation? The Committee was advised it was still fairly early as it had been installed on 1st April but initial feedback was positive. Monitoring was undertaken 24/7 by the control room and incidents could be reported direct to the Police. Reference was made to a recent incident and the time taken to respond. The Partnership Manager would refer this to the LPT Commander outside the meeting in the first instance.
- How were arrangements for the SPACE programme progressing due to shortened timescales? Members were advised the arrangements were progressing well, funding had been secured and locations discussed with external partners regarding outreach; there was a commitment to the provision of J2 passes at a reduced cost for individuals above 8 years old and their families to be available over summer and potentially other school holidays. There would be publicity on the SPACE 2021 scheme shortly. The scheme was being targeted at known hotspot areas.
(a) the report be received; and
(b) the Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner and a representative of the Local Policing Team be invited to a future meeting to discuss the policing response to ASB issues as raised at the meeting.