Enforcement tools & support options
Tackling anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is consistently identified by residents as a key issue affecting their quality of life. The council believes that nobody should have to live with anti-social behaviour and is committed to making a difference to improve the lives of Tower Hamlets residents.
We work in partnership with the Safer Neighbourhoods teams, Tower Hamlets residents and other local agencies, to deal with all anti-social behaviour that happens on the streets of Tower Hamlets.
Download our ASB strategy.
When a council team investigates a serious anti-social behaviour problem, the team takes a balanced approach and considers the effects it will have on the victims, witnesses and the community. The council team will try to resolve any problems by taking action, when appropriate, using the powers set out by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act of 2003.
Depending on the case, the council’s investigation team may use one of the enforcement and support options listed below.
These enforcement and support options include:
Acceptable behaviour contracts
Acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs) are non-legally binding written contracts between one or more local agencies and someone who has behaved anti-socially, outlining what that person should or should not do. They are often used with children and young people, but can equally be used for adults, when a warning has been unsuccessful in addressing a problem.
An ABC is a written agreement between a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and one or more local agencies who are responsible for preventing such behaviour.
The contract is agreed and signed at a meeting with the individual. The contract will list the acts in which the person has been involved and which they agree not to continue to do. Legal action in the form of an anti-social behaviour order can be stated as the possible consequence of a breach of the contract.
Acceptable behaviour contracts usually last for six months, but they can be renewed. For more information on anti-social behaviour orders, please see the next section below.
Anti-social behaviour injunctions
An injunction is a civil order made by the county court to compel an adult (over the age of 18) to do something, or to prevent a particular action or behaviour.
They can be applied for by social landlords against tenants, owner-occupiers and non-tenants. Injunctions are used when someone is committing anti-social behaviour, including noise nuisance, verbal abuse, visitors causing nuisance to neighbours, untidy gardens and threats of violence or actual violence.
Anti-social behaviour order
An anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is a civil order that protects the public from behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. ASBOs are not criminal penalties, but breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence. They can be made on anyone aged 10 or over who has displayed anti-social behaviour in the previous six months. They are intended to protect the public from further anti-social behaviour.
The purpose of an ASBO is to prevent anti-social behaviour by specific individuals. These orders can be applied for by police, councils, registered social landlords and the British Transport Police.
Anti-social behaviour orders are usually arranged when an application has specifically been made for one. The order will contain details of what the defendant is prohibited from doing. There is no specified maximum duration for these orders and they last for a minimum of two years.
If an order is breached the defendant can be prosecuted and face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to five years in prison. Juvenile offenders can be given a detention and training order sentence which has a maximum term of 24 months.
Community agreements are written settlements reached between the residents of a community to resolve disputes. The agreement is based on the wishes of the majority, and facilitated by independent mediators who make private and confidential visits to each person involved. They are used when there is conflict or unrest within a neighbourhood.
Crack house closure orders
The council’s team is closing down crack houses throughout Tower Hamlets in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police partnership unit under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act.
When a property has been taken over by drug users or dealers of class A drugs, crack house closure orders can be used to close the house down and keep it closed. An order can last for up to three months, and can be extended for a further three months. During this time the property will be sealed, and it is an offence to enter or remain in the property.
Demotion orders are used by landlords when a tenant, resident or visitor to the tenant’s home has behaved or threatened to behave in a way which is capable of causing nuisance and affects the housing management of an area. They allow landlords to apply to the courts to reduce the security of tenure for tenants, by removing a number of tenancy rights, including the right to buy and the right to exchange. Tenants who do not respect their homes or the communities they live in could face losing their homes unless their anti-social behaviour ceases.
If a tenant, a member of their household or their visitors behave anti-socially, the landlord can apply to the court for a demotion order to end the tenant’s existing tenancy agreement and replace it with a less secure demoted tenancy arrangement. This removes the tenant’s right to buy and security of tenure for at least a year. At the end of a year if the landlord is satisfied by the tenant’s conduct, then a review will take place to reinstate the tenant’s original status.
Dispersal order (for groups)
With the introduction of new powers, the council’s team can now use dispersal orders across Tower Hamlets to disperse youths and other groups from causing a nuisance in identified hotspots. The dispersal order means that the police can pick up youths that break the order and take them home or in some cases take further action.
Dispersal powers are used in public spaces (such as shopping arcades or parks) where groups gather and intimidate and harass the public. Once an area has been designated a dispersal area then police can direct groups of two or more people to leave if they are causing a nuisance, and if they don’t live in the area. They may be excluded from the area for up to 24 hours.
Family intervention projects
When an agency has received numerous complaints about the behaviour of a family and the impact they’re having on their local community, they can use a family intervention project to work with that family to change their behaviour. The family is offered help to address the causes of their behaviour, along with supervision and enforcement to ensure they change it.
Fixed penalty notices
Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) are one off fines issued for anti-social behaviour designed to help police tackle low level nuisance such as litter, fly-tipping and noise.
They can be issued by local authority officers, and in a limited capacity by police community support officers (PCSOs). FPNs can be issued to anyone over 10 years old. Many are set at £75 but local authorities can set some fine levels locally.
More serious offences such as truancy and noise nuisance attract larger fines.
Councils can order gating of a highway in order to prevent crime or anti-social behaviour from occurring. If the alley is a public right of way it can still be closed or diverted if suitable alternate routes exist and the council deems it necessary for the purposes of preventing or reducing crime and/or anti-social behaviour which would otherwise disrupt the life of the community.
The landlord may obtain an injunction from the court without any notice on the day that the anti-social behaviour occurs. This enables a landlord to apply to the court for a housing injunction to prevent any behaviour which would cause nuisance and annoyance and which either indirectly or directly affects their management of the premises.
This makes it easier to exclude those responsible for anti-social behaviour from areas where they have been causing trouble. It also allows for the power of arrest, proceedings for possession and for protection of people in the community.
Individual support orders
Individual support orders can be attached to an ASBO against a person aged between 10 and 17. They contain positive obligations designed to tackle the underlying causes of the person’s anti-social behaviour, and are usually overseen by a member of the youth offending team or social services.
The orders can last for up to six months, and can require the young person to attend up to two sessions a week. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.
Intervention orders (IOs) can be attached to anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) in the same way as individual support orders (ISOs), and are designed to tackle anti-social behaviour as a result of drugs misuse.
They require individuals who act anti-socially as a result of drugs misuse to comply with positive conditions that tackle his/her anti-social behaviour. IOs can only be given to individuals aged 18 or over and can last six months or less.
Noise abatement notices
A noise abatement notice requires the abatement of noise nuisance or prohibits or restricts its occurrence or recurrence. They can also require a person to carry out works, and/or take other steps to stop the noise nuisance, for example seizing the noise making equipment.
A notice must be served if the noisemaker cannot be persuaded to desist or restrict occurrences of the nuisance, or if the local authority is satisfied that a statutory nuisance continues to exist after a seven day deferral period.
Parenting contracts are voluntary agreements made between local agencies and a parent or parents. They set out what parents will do to address the anti-social behaviour of a child or children for whom they are responsible.
This may contain an agreement to attend a parenting programme, or to ensure that a child attends school regularly. They are often made between schools or local education authorities with the parent(s) of a child who has truanted or been excluded from school.
Parenting orders can be made by a court when there has been a problem with a young person’s behaviour. They impose requirements on the parent(s) or guardian, which will usually include their attendance on a guidance or counselling programme. Other requirements, such as ensuring that the child attends school, can also be included.
Non-compliance can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
A parenting programme teaches parents techniques to improve their child’s behaviour. They can be used at the first sign of problems, for example when a warning about a child’s behaviour is first given.
The programmes focus on teaching parents skills to remedy the causes of problem behaviour by building a relationship with the child, use of praise and incentives and establishing consistent boundaries, with ‘time out’ for infringements. They are delivered by a range of organisations including the NHS, schools, children’s centres and youth offending teams.
Penalty notices for disorder
Penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) are one-off fines which can be issued on the spot for a range of low-level disorder offences such as throwing fireworks, being drunk and disorderly and causing harassment.
They can be issued by the police, police community support officers and accredited persons to anyone over 16 years old, and attract penalties of £50 or £80 depending on the offence.
Pirate radio station closure
Tower Hamlets is now working closely with other London boroughs to close down pirate radio stations that operate in Tower Hamlets.
The council’s team liaises closely with other key services and encourages witnesses to go to court. If a witness feels vulnerable, fears reprisals and is at risk, then the team will provide them with both moral and physical support.
The team makes sure that witnesses feel safe at their residence and can provide further safety steps by supplying a fireproof letter box, a spy-hole camera and personal alarms. The team also briefs witnesses throughout the court process and makes sure that the witnesses feel confident and are able to give their evidence in front of a judge.