We believe that everyone has the right to enjoy a quiet and peaceful life in their homes.
We recognise, however, that some of our residents may suffer distress, fear and insecurity as a result of anti-social behaviour.  We will therefore make every attempt, within our resources, to enable our residents to live in their homes without being harassed, subjected to noise, nuisance or other disturbance / disruption from others around them.

Joint Policy on Anti-Social Behaviour

In July 2010, a ground-breaking approach to tackling anti-social behaviour was launched across West Dunbartonshire when a joint policy on Anti-Social Behaviour was signed by representatives from West Dunbartonshire Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Task Force (ASSIST) and 9 local Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) including ourselves.

The partners are:
• West Dunbartonshire Council 
• Bellsmyre Housing Association
• Clydebank Housing Association                                           
• Cordale Housing Association
• Cube Housing Association
• Dalmuir Park Housing Association
• Dunbritton Housing Association
• Faifley Housing Association
• Knowes Housing Association
• Trafalgar Housing Association

Police Scotland, another major partner in tackling anti-social behaviour, is similarly committed to supporting us and the other joint policy partners through the sharing of information and in other ongoing joint initiatives.

The joint policy ensures that all complaints in the West Dunbartonshire area are investigated following a standard approach, regardless of whether the complainant is a Council tenant, a housing association tenant, tenant of a private landlord or a homeowner.

What is Anti-Social Behaviour?

The Anti-Social Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 defines anti-social behaviour (ASB) as ‘A person engages in anti-social behaviour if he/she’:

a) Acts in a manner that causes or is likely to cause alarm or distress; OR

b) Pursues a course of conduct that causes or is likely to cause alarm or distress, to at least one person who is not of the same household.

‘Conduct’ includes speech and a ‘Course of Conduct’ must be conducted on at least two occasions.

Section 3 ‘Respect for Others’ of your Tenancy Agreement mirrors this definition of anti-social behaviour and also provides examples of actions or conduct which would constitute anti-social behaviour and therefore a breach of your tenancy conditions.

The scope of anti-social behaviour is therefore very broad, ranging from minor disputes between neighbours who have differing lifestyles to severe nuisance, harassment and violence. It is not confined to the home, it occurs within the local vicinity/area, between neighbours and may involve others not living in the area.

What to do if you are experiencing Anti-Social Behaviour

If you are having problems with a neighbour we would encourage you to consider the following actions:

1.  Ask yourself if your neighbour has a different lifestyle to you and if their actions really are unreasonable.
2.  If it feels safe to do so, speak to the neighbour directly. This often solves problems at an early stage. You may be surprised to find they are unaware that they are causing a problem.
3.  Listen to what your neighbour says to you. Talking to each other can clear up misunderstandings and often problems can be resolved.
4.  If a friendly word does not work and the problem persists or you are worried about approaching your neighbour, please speak to your Housing Officer for advice and assistance.

What can you expect from us?

We have a Neighbour Complaint Form which you can use to report a complaint to us. You can however firstly make a complaint of anti-social behaviour to your Housing Officer in person by calling at the office, by phone, by email or in writing.  When you report an anti-social behaviour incident to us we will prioritise it according to the following categories depending on how serious it is.  We will manage the case according to the category it is allocated :

Category A: Extreme
Examples:
1.  Drug dealing.
2.  Unprovoked serious assault.
3.  Hate crime/other harassment. 
4.  Violent conduct towards neighbours/council/RSL staff.
5.  Serious damage to property including fire raising.
This category includes types of criminal behaviour entirely within the remit of the police but certain action may also be taken by us.

Category B: Serious (and persistent behaviour)
Examples:
1.  Frequent disturbances
2.  Vandalism/damage to property
3.  Threatening behaviour/ verbal & written harassment
4.  Excessive and persistent noise
5.  Vandalism to Association property
6.  Drugs/alcohol misuse

Category C: Other Complaints / nuisance / disputes
Examples:
1.  Infrequent disturbance/ noise
2.  Running a business
3.  Verbal harassment
4.  Unauthorised alterations
5.  Behaviour of visitors/children
6.  Basic tenancy condition breaches e.g. pet nuisance, stair cleaning
7.  Maintenance of garden/common grounds etc.
8.  Parking complaints
9.  Family disputes affecting neighbours

The above list is not intended to be exhaustive.

We will respond quickly, sensitively and objectively to complaints of anti-social behaviour.  The response may be in the form of a telephone call, a home visit or an interview in the Association’s office as appropriate.  We will contact complainants and take any initial required action within the following timescales:

Action

Category A

Category B

Category C

Contact Complainer

24 Hours

3 working days

5 working days

Contact Neighbours / Witnesses

24 hours              

3 working days            

5 working days

 

Interview Alleged Offender

24 hours

5 working days

10 working days

Liaise with Other Agencies

24 hours

5 working days

10 working days

Case Evaluation / Action

24 hours

5 working days

15 working days

 

What will your Housing Officer do?

Your Housing Officer will investigate your complaint. This will involve interviewing you in order to find out the full extent of the problem. We need to seek corroboration to any incident reported to us. Therefore, our investigations may also involve interviewing / gathering information from other sources such as neighbours, other possible witnesses or external organisations such as the Police,ASSIST and Social Work etc.  It is important to stress that any information passed to us is kept strictly confidential.  You will be kept informed of the progress of your complaint by your Housing Officer.

What actions can we take?

We will take positive and decisive action to deal with anti-social behaviour caused by our tenants, their household members or visitors. We will use a range of measures available to us and as applicable to each individual case. Some of these measures are as follows:

Preventative Measures

We recognise that prevention is often the most effective form of action and we will therefore try to minimise the circumstances which may give rise to it by:-

1.  Considering factors affecting anti-social behaviour in the design and improvement of our existing and new build properties.

2.  Advising all new and prospective tenants at pre allocation visits and sign up interviews of our policies and procedures in relation to anti-social behaviour and their responsibilities towards their neighbours etc.

3.  Carrying out ‘settling in’ visits to new tenants in order to reinforce tenancy agreement obligations.

4.  Including in our Tenants Handbook information and advice on anti-social behaviour and what we and other agencies can do to help.

5.  Ensuring that our allocations policy and lettings procedures support/complement our objectives in tackling anti-social behaviour e.g. written references, appropriate tenancy/housing support services in place, use of suspensions as applicable etc.

6.  Supporting projects and initiatives for children and young people e.g. diversionary activities, improved facilities etc.

Mediation

We recognise mediation as an effective means to aid conflict resolution. This is a way of helping people deal with disputes and reach some form of agreement that everyone can live with. Mediators help people discuss the problem. It is voluntary, confidential and free. We will therefore encourage the use of such services in appropriate cases and assist with any necessary referrals to West Dunbartonshire Council Neighbourhood Mediation Service.

Voluntary Measures

We will encourage the use of voluntary measures such as Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Unacceptable Behaviour Notices in appropriate cases.

Enforcement

If necessary we are committed to the enforcement of the conditions of tenancy and will use a full range of enforcement tools, to bring about a satisfactory conclusion, where such action is found to be justified and reasonable.

The action we take will take the form of a staged approach and may include formal warnings, multi-agency case conferences or initiatives e.g. with ASSIST, Police Scotland, Support Agencies etc., as well as legal action being instructed for very serious/persistent anti-social behaviour concerning a tenant, household member or visitor e.g. anti-social behaviour orders, notice/decree of repossession.

What can you do to help?

It will help if you have the facts – i.e. dates, times and details of any incidents. We provide Diary Sheets to help you do this.

Let the Police know – it is very important that you report incidents of anti-social behaviour to the Police at the time of the incident. Remember to take a note of the date and time so that we can ask for a ‘Police Report’ on the incident. This will help us to confirm your complaint, build up evidence in your case and is very important should we require to take legal action.

Please remember that you should call the Police if a neighbour is threatening you or is causing a breach of the peace. These types of incidents are a police matter and should be reported to them for assistance at the time they are occurring.

Tenant Satisfaction

Following a complaint investigation being completed we will request you to complete a brief satisfaction survey. The results of which will help us improve the service we are providing.

Crimestoppers – 0800 555 111

Crimestoppers is an independent charity helping to find criminals and help solve crimes.  They run the anonymous 0800 555 111 phone number that you can call to pass on information about crime.  Alternatively you can pass information anonymously via their website (www.crimestoppers-uk.org) using their Giving Information Form.

You do not have to give your name or any personal information. Calls and online forms cannot be traced. This means you won’t need to appear in court or give a statement to police.  Crimestoppers believe that people and their communities have the right to live without crime and without the fear of crime.

When crime does take place they believe that anybody who knows those responsible should go to the police. However, many people who want to take action are close to the criminal and fear retribution.  Crimestoppers offers them the secure means for them to get that information to the police, making their families and communities safer.

The Crimestoppers website also has advice on crime prevention, how to protect your home and personal safety tips which you may find useful.