HC Deb 03 November 2003 vol 412 cc439-40W
Ms Oona King

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department will take to encourage social landlords to take more enforcement measures against anti-social tenants; and what assessment he has made of the implications for the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan of the awarding of costs against the housing association in the case THCH v. Mr. Joseph Loomes. [134580]

Keith Hill

I have been asked to reply.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is extending the range of tools that social landlords can use to tackle anti-social behaviour. These include broadening the range of landlords who can take out injunctions against tenants who behave in an anti-social manner, introducing a power for social landlords to demote secure and assured tenants to a less favourable form of tenancy, and generally ensuring that the responses to anti-social behaviour are appropriately focused on the needs of the community. In addition, social landlords will be required to prepare and publish policies and procedures in relation to anti-social behaviour, which will be available to tenants and other residents.

It is the responsibility of social landlords to ensure that they use the appropriate enforcement measure to address the variety of anti-social behaviour cases that may arise. However, the general purpose of the measures in the Anti-social Behaviour Bill is to encourage and facilitate social landlords taking a more active approach in their dealings with anti-social behaviour.

The definition of anti-social behaviour used in Part 2 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill refers to conduct which is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance rather than behaviour which has actually caused nuisance or annoyance to named individuals. This makes it clear that landlords can use evidence from people other than the direct victims of the behaviour in proceedings for injunctions or demotion orders. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister hopes that this will encourage more social landlords to be proactive in their management of such behaviour, for example by using professional witnesses in situations where individual victims are too scared or intimidated to give evidence.

Regarding the specific case mentioned, it does not have any significant implications for the Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan, as the judgment is specific to that case. However, the broadening of injunctive powers included within the Anti-social Behaviour Bill mentioned earlier should make it easier for registered social landlords, including Tower Hamlets Community Homes, to undertake successful court action.

Mr. Cummings

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from(a) the Durham constabulary, (b) the Local Government Association and (c) other interested parties concerning problems in obtaining anti-social behaviour orders. [134650]

Ms Blears

I am not aware that any representations from Durham constabulary regarding problems with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) have been received. We work closely with the Local Government Association and other interested parties concerning ASBOs.

Legislative changes were introduced by the Police Reform Act 2002 to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ASBOs in response to problems identified by the Home Office review of ASBOs published in April 2002. These changes were accompanied by Home Office guidance on both ASBOs and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) which was distributed to local authorities and police in November 2002.

The Anti-social Behaviour Bill builds on these improvements. The ASBO measures respond to the experiences of relevant authorities and the needs of witnesses and victims and are intended to close loopholes, making ASBOs more easily obtainable for all cases where they would be appropriate.

The Home Office is also setting up an action line, website and training academy which will provide support for agencies to enable them to use the full range of interventions for tackling anti-social behaviour.

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