Thursday, 31 July 2014

Staff cutbacks come as government carries out review of ASB powers

Home Office cuts ASB team in half

The Home Office is slashing the number of people who work in its anti-social behaviour team by half.

Inside Housing understands the 14-strong team has been reduced to seven members following staff restructuring at the department.

The swingeing cut comes at a busy time for the team, which is carrying out a review of ASB powers that began in July last year.

The consultation, due to end on 17 May, proposes a number of new orders to tackle ABS (see box: ASB overhaul).

Two managers who were seconded from councils, have also left the team. Paul Cullan and Aaron Devereaux started work for the government’s anti-social behaviour squad, which was backed by £255,000 of government cash, in September 2009.

They came from Manchester and Brighton & Hove councils respectively, and returned to their positions on council anti-social behaviour teams in March. Mr Cullan has since accepted voluntary severance from the council following staff cuts.

Eamon Lynch, managing director of the Social Landlords’ Crime and Nuisance Group, said: ‘The Home Office anti-social behaviour unit has just been sliced in half.

‘I don’t know why this has happened right in the middle of major reform - it just seems a most odd time. We have asked for the funding [for these posts] to be continued but this was politely declined.’

The review seeks to reduce the number of powers available to the police and landlords from 18 to just five. Social landlords have been asked to identify ASB ‘hotspots’ as part of the consultation.

The Home Office refused to comment on personnel issues. A spokesperson said: ‘ASB is a priority for this government as set out in the coalition document and the Home Office business plan.’

ASB overhaul: the proposals

  • Criminal behaviour order available on conviction for any criminal offence
  • Crime prevention injunction a civil order
  • Police direction power a power to direct any individual away from a specified place
  • Community protection order (level 1) a notice to stop persistent anti-social behaviour that is affecting quality of life in an area
  • Community protection order (level 2) a local authority/ police power to restrict use of a property

Readers' comments (5)

  • Trevor Galley

    Quite why the CIH backed this when landlords (The Members) did not I am at a loss?
    The changes to Policing on neighbourhoods - Improved accountability? Closing courts?

    It seems we at the front line are in for a bumpy ride again.

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  • The question is why did they just cut it in half? The whole lot should have been gone. Theresa May is going soft.

    The asbo biz was just another useless initiative of the last hyperactive, interfering government. As May said: "It's crime. They are criminals. And the police do that stuff".

    Now, can the social housing sector follow the lead and look at effective vetting at allocation backed up by ruthless prosecution through the courts, all carried out as part of the everyday duties of every housing officer.

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  • Apoica

    Yes, well, is this the same ASB "hit squad" that was set up under NuLab to which IH queried who was actually part of this and to which the answers were not forthcoming at the time? And as to results and "outcomes" (dontcha just love those Lefty public sector buzzwords and catchphrases?) delivered, well, don't ask.

    Michael Read is spot on again. Only half? Talk about half measures. Don't need to worry about Clueless Clegg anymore, just scrap the lot of them. It has been suggested by some that May is just not up to the job. Bit of a ditherer. Just get on with it and scrap the lot...

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  • It is indeed difficult to think what value the ASB unit brought to any of the work we in housing do. ASB is in any event pretty much always criminal behaviour. The answer remains as it always has been - street level policing, rigourous punishments for transgressors and sensible design of both the built environment and the social strucutre of communities to reduce the opportunities or desire for ASB.

    Sadly, in a world in which people have for thirty odd years been told that 'might is right', that the agents of the state are 'meddling bureaucrats' or 'lazy public sector workers', t5hen that is going to be harder than we think. However, having a tiny team of poeople in a room in London isn't goingto help. What will help is if local police forces recognise that low level crime and selfish behaviour are perhaps the greatest drags on quality of life.

    Mind you, misguided liberalism has a lot to answer for. People should indeed be allowed to do pretty much what they want as long as it doesn't hurt, damage or destroy others and their lives. We now seem to have lost the part about not hurting or adversely affecting others...
    'We shouldn't decry graffiti because it is art'. No it's not. It's ugly, demaning and dirty and shows no respect for the environemnt shared by everyone.
    'People have a right to listen to music as loud as they want to because it is youth culture'. No it's not. It is selfish and damaging to everyone's right to the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their home. Which is increasingly difficult when people are expected to tolerate the monotonous thud-thud-thud of an unchanging bass beat for hours at a time.
    'Business has a right to sell booze to people at any time of day or night because people have a right to drink when they want'. No - not if that means that swathes of town centres are no-go areas for people who don't like walking through pools of vomit or would rather not run the risk of a tattooed thug smashing a bottle into their face because they 'looked at my bird'.

    What we need to do is to try an bring back a collective culture, or people realsiing that they are not islands in our world. Thast of course will mean challenging the individualistic, 'no such thing as society' thrust of contemporary politics and social debate. Dificult when the ruling elite are totally committed to atomising society into competing and fighting individuals and fiefdoms.

    As an aside, it is pretty clear by now that the CiH will support anything the Con/LibDem/newLabour Coaltion comes up with. Just so long as it plays to the interests of pseduo-private sector landlords. Has there ever been a trade body less representative of its membership?

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  • Only One

    Surely the majority of ASB is a criminal matter and should be treated accordingly? No?

    Gresley - I love your stereotypical/Daily Mail view of how a "thug" looks and behaves!! Tattooes - well that's nearly all of the Royal Navy. And the "monotonous thud-thud-thud of an unchanging bass beat" would suggest that your taste is more classical in basis as the majority of that modern pop music stuff is usually in 4/4 with a set BPM. Not Chopin however, he varies the rhythm and alters the key! Clever stuff.

    And what does your 'bird' look like? If she's a 'bit tasty' then no wonder the thugs with their thud-thud music, bottles of WKD, and silly hair cuts are looking at her.

    Best stay at home, it's getting scary out there.........

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