Thursday, 30 July 2015

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

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