Enforcement tools and 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 Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams, Tower Hamlets residents and other local agencies, to deal with anti-social behaviour that happens in Tower Hamlets.
ASB takes many forms and can be best addressed by a variety of action by officers from the council, police or housing associations and often in partnership.
The first approach will always be to attempt to resolve the issue informally with actions such as warnings or Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and interventions such as support and engagement with other services.
Each case will be assessed and more formal action will be considered at the most appropriate stage.
The victim is at the heart of how ASB is managed with risk and the impact of the ASB central to our decisions.
The main legislation that we can use is the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Other legislation and the services of agencies or teams at the council can also be used where circumstances indicate this will be useful. For example breach of Tenancy Agreements or Licensing and Planning or Environmental Health powers relating to noise issues.
Depending on the case, the agencies investigating may use one or more of the enforcement and support options listed as follows:
Absolute Grounds for Possession
The Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced an absolute ground for possession of a rented premise (both within the social and private housing sectors), where antisocial behaviour or criminality has already been proven by another court.
It is designed to speed up the eviction of landlords’ most antisocial tenants to bring faster relief to victims. There are safeguards in place to manage the process before an application is made to the court including review panels by social landlords.
Courts will award possession if a tenant, a member of the tenant’s household, or a person visiting the property has met one of the following conditions:
- convicted of a serious offence (as specified in Schedule 2A to the Housing Act 1985)
- found by a court to have breached a civil injunction
- convicted of breaching a Criminal Behaviour Order
- convicted for breaching a noise abatement notice, or
- the tenant’s property has been closed for more than 48 hours under a closure order for anti-social behaviour.
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 be used for adults, when a warning has been unsuccessful in addressing a problem.
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.
More formal and legal action 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.
A civil injunction is one of the powers provided by the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and is made by the civil county court to compel a person to do something, or to prevent a particular action or behaviour that is causing ASB.
They can also provide a positive requirement of a person and not just prohibitions. This is to address the causes of the behaviour such as alcohol or other substance misuse.
They are most often applied to actions by adults but can be used when dealing with younger people too, aged 10 and older.
In the context of most ASB at Tower Hamlets, they can be applied for by council officers, police officers and social housing landlords against people whose behaviour caused ASB.
The Closure Power is a fast, flexible power that can be used to protect victims and communities by closing premises activities relating to it causing nuisance or disorder.
It can be put in place by police and council officers where there is nuisance, disorder or criminal behaviour related to particular premises.
This can be where there may be severe drugs misuse, other serious ASB or vulnerable tenants subject to activity such as “Cuckooing”, the practice of a person taking over the house or flat of a person who is vulnerable for a variety of reasons.
It can be used for a short period of up to 48 hours or if taken to court, be ordered to be in place for three months initially with the possibility for an extension of a further three months.
If a full order is obtained, all persons can be excluded from the premises. Special arrangements can be applied in cases of Cuckooing where the tenant can remain with appropriate support but all others are excluded. Breach of a closure order can result in a criminal conviction and imprisonment.
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.
Community Protection Notice
The Community Protection Notice (CPN) can be used to stop a person aged 16 over, or a business or organisation committing antisocial behaviour which spoils the community’s quality of life.
It can be used by council and police officers where the behaviour
- has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
- is of a persistent or continuing nature and
- is unreasonable.
A written warning must be given first with conditions that the recipient must comply with and if breached, a full Notice is issued.
Breach of this Notice is a criminal offence and can be dealt with by the issuing of a fixed penalty notice or if appropriate, prosecution with a maximum fine of up to £500 for individuals and £20,000 for businesses.
Criminal Behaviour Order
A provision of the 2014 Act, this can be issued by any criminal court against a person who has been convicted of an offence, to tackle the most persistently antisocial individuals who are also engaged in criminal activity.
This can be applied for by the “Prosecution” which in the majority of cases is the police. Council officers and housing officials can liaise with police partners during their investigations. Those cases and where related or unrelated criminal matters are apparent, can also result in individuals being subject to Criminal Behaviour Orders to assist in resolving cases.
It is normally a power used to deal with those most serious offenders and breaches can result in a criminal conviction and for those over 18 years of age, imprisonment for up to five years.
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 can cause a nuisance and affects the housing management of an area.
They allow social housing 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.
Police only may use this power under the Act. It permits officers to define an area where there is evidence that crime or disorder is likely to occur and require people committing or likely to commit ASB to leave the area for up to 48 hours.
If required to leave and returning within the time defined in the direction then this is a criminal offence subject to a fine or for adults (18 years of over) up to three months imprisonment.
Noise abatement notices
A noise abatement notice requires the abatement of a statutory noise nuisance or prohibits or restricts its occurrence or recurrence.
More information related to nuisance caused by noise and how the Environmental Health team at the council deals with it can be found on our noise pollution webpage.
Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)
The PSPO is designed to stop individuals or groups committing antisocial behaviour in a public space. Only councils can issue a PSPO although in consultation with the police, other relevant bodies and through extensive consultation with local residents who may be impacted by it.
The behaviour that the PSPO is designed to counter must:
- be having of likely to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
- be persistent or of a continuing nature and
- be unreasonable.
The order can apply to any area within the council where evidence supports the restrictions and in some cases if justified, can apply across the whole borough.
The PSPO can be enforced by council and police officers and breaches can be dealt with by means of fixed penalty notice or if prosecuted, a fine.
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 to anyone over 16 years old and attract penalties of £60 or £90 depending on the offence.