Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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New guidance to help communities tackle anti-social behaviour

New guidance to help communities tackle anti-social behaviour

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 23 March 2010

Local councils need to work more closely with other agencies to address anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers, Communities Secretary John Denham said today.

As with all communities only a small minority of Gypsies and Travellers behave anti-socially and their mobile lifestyle can exacerbate this – but perceptions that the community is not dealt with the same as other communities damage public confidence about fair treatment for all.

Mr Denham is urging local councils to make full use of powers available to them when tackling anti-social behaviour in all communities.

The Government today published guidance for local authorities, the police and other agencies, setting out the strong powers that are available to them in dealing with anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers - whether they are the perpetrators or the victims – and where possible preventing such behaviour before it occurs. Powers include Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and injunctions.

This guidance makes clear what action can be taken on policing and prevention, fly-tipping, noise, straying livestock and untaxed vehicles. It also stresses the importance of agencies working together to apply the same rules to Gypsies and Travellers when gathering evidence, prosecuting and collecting fines.

He also welcomed new planning rules which will speed up the enforcement process where it may be necessary so that quicker action can be taken against developments without planning permission such as unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites.

Communities Secretary John Denham said:

"Everyone has the right to expect to live in neighbourhoods that are free from anti-social behaviour – whether its unruly neighbours, aggressive gangs or mindless vandals.

"While much has been achieved there are still communities where such behaviour causes real misery. Everyone has responsibilities and rights and no one should receive preferential treatment.

"Local councils and the police have strong powers and tools to crack down on anti-social behaviour – and I expect them to be used to the full. This guidance will help ensure that the local agencies understand the powers available to them and can take prompt appropriate action."
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
"Anti-social behaviour, which I am determined to tackle, devastates people’s lives and runs down our communities.

"The Gypsy and Traveller community is treated no differently than the rest of the community. Perpetrators of crime and antisocial behaviour will be punished and, where appropriate, taken through the criminal courts and jailed.

"Earlier this month I made clear to all local agencies that I expect them to work together and respond to complaints of antisocial behaviour within 24 hours, using the wide ranging and tough powers we have provided which we know work. This guidance helps drive home that important message."

The need for this guidance was welcomed by the independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement for Gypsies and Travellers which includes Gypsy and Traveller representation.

Sir Brian Briscoe, chair of the Task Group said:
"I am pleased that the Government is publishing guidance on anti-social behaviour relating to Gypsies and Travellers.

"I hope that this guidance will help local authorities, the police and other agencies to address the issues of anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies and Travellers whether they are the victims or the perpetrators of such behaviour."

The publication builds on measures put in place for local councils to provide new authorised sites and tough powers for local authorities to use when dealing with camping on unauthorised land.

John Denham is challenging local councils to use the Government funds available to provide authorised sites which could substantially cut enforcement costs, currently estimated at £18 million a year.

Today’s publication is part of a major campaign to tackle anti-social behaviour. This includes training up to 10,000 community champions and front-line staff to join together to take a stand against anti-social behaviour.

A new booklet to 10 million households has also recently been delivered to ensure they know how to take action and challenge their public services and comes as part of a £10 million package to tackle anti-social behaviour, including more than £6 million support for 130 areas to address their particular local priorities on anti social behaviour.

The Home Secretary and Communities Secretary have today written to all local authority chief executives in England to encourage them to continue working closely with the police to help increase public confidence that the police and councils are dealing with the crime and anti-social behaviour issues that matter locally.
The letter re-emphasises the message at the heart of the Government’s new Safe and Confident Neighbourhoods Strategy - that all services must work together to ensure that no victim of crime or anti-social behaviour falls through the gaps.

Notes to Editors

1. Copy of the guidance is available at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/anti-socialbehaviourguide

2. Communities and Local Government is supporting a range of activity as part of a cross-Government drive to ensure that the public is able to live in neighbourhoods free from the corrosive effects of intimidation and harassment. Tackling anti-social behaviour is the joint responsibility of a range of agencies and the best results are achieved where these agencies work together in partnership. The community can also play an important role in working with local agencies to take successful action against anti-social behaviour.

In November 2010 John Denham announced extra support for communities to tackle anti social behaviour including £10 million funding. Among the measures are:

• letting local residents know their rights and how to report anti-social behaviour through targeted leaflets to 10 million households;

• training for frontline staff and residents to learn about the tool and powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour; and

• extra funding for local work in 130 local areas to tackle anti-social behaviour such as environmental clean up campaigns, supporting community led projects to engage young people and creating more attractive public spaces.

3. The Government set up an independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement in 2006 to look at unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller encampments and developments. The Group's final report The Road Ahead was published in December 2007.

One of its recommendations included reducing the time for planning appeals when the same development is the subject of an enforcement notice. The Planning White Paper took this recommendation forward. The 'Briscoe amendment' has recently been introduced - through changes to the General Development Procedure Order (GDPO) - and comes into effect on 6 April.

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