The County You Live, Work And Play
NLC Anti Social Service
A council tenant who was struggling from the effects of having an anti-social neighbour called the service to complain about ongoing music and party and crowd noise. The night team responded, witnessed the excessive noise and reassured the tenant. The team attended the neighbour’s property and not only issued an on-the-spot warning but had the property emptied. Follow up contact was made by the local response officer to both the complainer and the anti-social resident.
Elaine McHugh, head of housing services, said this excellent link up work between the teams really does make all the difference to tenants.
She said: “We’re responding to complaints of anti-social behaviour as and when they are happening. For example, 68 per cent of the complaints we received related to domestic noise, and attending these incidents while they’re ongoing allows us both to resolve them and helps us to build more positive relationship with complainers. We attended, and resolved, 1120 visits relating to ongoing complaints, as opposed to 331 last year.
“Our new service means officers can now hand out on-the-spot fines; remove noise nuisance equipment from homes, and with the support of our partners, Police Scotland, put an immediate stop to serious antisocial behaviour incidents.”
The team also increased the number of warnings issued to over 1,000. In addition, it introduced a verbal warning which allows the team to respond to issues that don’t merit a formal warning. This proactive approach of early intervention means 858 formal warnings were issued this year as opposed to 930 last year.
Another aspect of the new service is the partnership work with Police Scotland. The intelligence led ‘Out of Hours’ project – which operates during weekends and out of hours – involves officers from Police Scotland and North Lanarkshire Council’s Anti-social Response Team visiting ‘hotspots’ and carrying out joint visits to properties where residents are causing problems for their neighbours.
During the recent pilot of this service, over 300 joint visits took place and a range of action taken against those making the lives of others a misery.
One resident said he’d gone weeks without sleep because of an anti-social neighbour and was scared about phoning the service.
He said: “I got a quick response, and the police and the response officers attended. The music went down and the silence was beautiful. It felt very easy to contact the service back after and I didn’t feel uncomfortable calling the service or the police, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. It was great they were always at the end of the phone, polite and courteous and just knowing there was help available all of the time.”
During the joint visits, officers emptied three properties of youths who were causing a disturbance; seized noise making equipment, and on three occasions, officers identified vulnerable people and provided additional support to allow them to sustain their tenancies, free from harassment and abuse. A range of warnings were also issued.
Inspector Alistair Anderson, of Motherwell and Wishaw community policing team, added: “By identifying repeat locations and offenders, we are able to take the appropriate action ranging from advice and guidance, through to formal warnings, the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices or in reporting offenders to the Procurator Fiscal. Through this approach we have already witnessed a reduction in calls to problematic addresses that we have identified across the locality area of over 70 per cent.
“We have long since recognised the importance of strong partnership working, and this initiative is a great example of how working together has had a positive impact on the local community. Tackling Anti Social Behaviour is a force priority and this framework affords us a great opportunity to work with our partners and get to the root of the problem.”
The number of complaints made to the service has increased by 32 per cent, something the local authority puts down to a rise in public confidence, wider knowledge of the service and its growing reputation for stopping anti-social behaviour in its tracks.
“It’s not only the outcomes that reflect the improved service,” said councillor Sam Love, convener of housing and social work. “We’re also receiving positive feedback from the tenants and residents we’re here to help, and our service is effectively responding to their needs.”
One of the biggest changes to the new anti-social response service is the reactive team of night officers who attend reports of anti-social behaviour as and when they happen. The team tackles anti-social behaviour at peak times; responding to figures showing that 85 per cent of all anti-social incidents take place at weekends. And this is proving to be one of the most successful aspects of the service.