Government examines ASBO extension
Housing associations have welcomed the clearest signal yet that the Home Office is to allow them to take out anti-social behaviour orders.
Home Office minister John Denham is examining enabling housing associations and other public service organisations to apply for ASBOs, alongside local authorities and police.
Despite the slow take-up of ASBOs since their introduction in 1998, Mr Denham said they were ‘working well'.
Speaking at a conference of the National Assembly for Wales' crime reduction unit, he said: ‘Building on their success I am looking at how their benefits might be extended. For instance, registered social landlords or the British Transport Police might be allowed to take advantage of them as part of a co-ordinated drive against anti-social behaviour.'
‘Local authorities have a broader duty to ensure that all issues are taken into account'
The move was welcomed by The Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group, which represents 100 local authorities and 90 RSLs. National organiser Tim Winter said models were already developing which saw greater involvement from RSLs.
He gave the example of Coventry's Whitefriars Housing Group, which ‘ensures that Whitefriars leads on ASBOs.' But not all RSLs would want direct access to apply for the orders and there had been very mixed levels of take-up across the country.
He stressed that the measures were proving effective as a deterrent, even if they did not always result in a court order. But civil rights group Liberty opposed the proposal, and claimed that ASBOs should be treated as criminal cases with a tougher burden of proof than civil cases, an argument currently being played out in the courts.
Spokesperson Roger Bingham said: ‘A housing association's remit is purely housing and local authorities have a broader duty to ensure that all issues are taken into account.'
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