'Urgent' need to tackle blot of antisocial behaviour on people's lives in South Tyneside
More work is needed to ‘end the blot of antisocial behaviour on everybody’s lives’ in South Tyneside, borough leaders have said.
An influential committee is considering new proposals for dealing with the actions of those which cause a misery for others in the area.
Councillors on South Tyneside Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee are reviewing a proposed draft antisocial behaviour policy for the borough – and have stressed the importance of making reporting lines easier and taking stronger action.
The council had requested South Tyneside Homes lead on the policy review, with the organisation’s Community Safety and Tenancy Enforcement Team having a key role in providing services for the authority.
Councillors called on all agencies to come together to tackle antisocial behaviour.
Committee chair Cllr Robert Dix said action needs to be taken by all partners “as a matter of urgency”.
He said: “I know it’s not easy, we all know it isn’t easy.
“We could sit here all day talking about it, so we need to be more proactive, we need to involve other agencies.
“Antisocial behaviour is a blot on everybody’s lives and we do have a big responsibility in tackling it.”
He also called for using parking attendants and enforcement officers to help address issues such as dog fouling and littering, and to help residents feel safe.
At the meeting councillors raised concerns over the difficulties reporting antisocial behaviour, with Cllr David Francis calling for a single point of contact for issues.
Cllr Ernest Gibson, lead member for area management and community safety, said councillors need a direct contact line for the antisocial behaviour team at South Tyneside Homes.
He said: “We need better forms of communications, because members have the intelligence, people tell us lots of things.”
Cllr John McCabe echoed how they have to make contact channels easier for residents, but warned they also need to have tough regulations in place to tackle offenders.
He said: “If it is someone who is continually performing antisocial behaviour they need to know that the strongest possible action is going to be taken against them.”
At the meeting concerns were also raised that the last review of the policy was in September 2016, with more frequent updates needed.
Cllr McCabe said: “I’ve been thumping the tub for many, many years now about how ineffective the antisocial behaviour unit is and it’s taken five years to review a policy, I think that’s horrendous.”
Cllr Gibson said when he first took over his cabinet position in November, the review was one of the first things he worked on.
Michelle Evans, head of housing at South Tyneside Homes, acknowledged the review is later than expected, and said improvements are in the process of being made.
She said: “We’ve done quite a significant amount of work looking at the resources required for the service and to be perfectly frank there wasn’t the resources to meet the caseload.
“I anticipate with the training that we’re putting in place for staff, in the coming months you’ll see a huge shift both in the capacity of the service and the ability of the team to respond in a timely manner.”
Ms Evans stressed they follow all statutory regulations and good practice and try to proactively deal with issues at the earliest stage.
She added recovering a property from a tenant is an “absolute last resort”, with various legal steps also needed for this to happen.
The draft antisocial behaviour review will now go before cabinet later this year.