Agenda item

Agenda item

Anti-social Behaviour Policy

Cabinet, at its meeting on 10 November, will consider a report on the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy. The Committee is asked to consider the report and agree any recommendations thereon.

Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer Healthy Oxford and Richard Adams, Community Safety Manager,have been invited to attend for this item. 



Cllr Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for a Safer Healthy Oxford introduced the report, noting that anti-social behaviour (ASB) could blight lives if unchecked and the Council had a responsibility to challenge it both in relation to its own housing stock as well as the wider community. This was a responsibility carried out in close partnership with other agencies. The policy set out what the Council could do and, as importantly, what it could not. It also set out what complainants might expect and was expected of complainants. ASB often had its root causes in deep seated difficulties for those involved and officers were trained to take proper account of that and to respond accordingly.

Richard Adams, Community Safety Service Manager, said the Council had a statutory duty to provide a policy, to review it regularly and to investigate certain matters. The Council played a leading role in addressing ASB as a Responsible Authority of the Community Safety Partnership in the City, notably but not exclusively in relation to Council property and its tenants. The last 18 months had seen a sharp decline in the incidence of ASB but as Covid restrictions had eased, so the incidence had increased and was now at a higher level than pre-pandemic. While there was an unequivocal responsibility to deal with ASB in Council properties there was no equivalent responsibility in relation to private rented property, however this was not to say that the Council would not offer  appropriate support in such cases as, indeed, it often did. He noted that complaints about noise was one matter which the Council was bound to investigate irrespective of its source (subject to the limitations set out in the policy). The ASB team, through its partnership working, connected with a host of programmes, initiatives and activities to address the challenges and behaviours that may be experienced by those exhibiting ASB. The covering report and the policy itself avoided explicit references to them however as they were so many and various. 

The Committee made a number of detailed observations and suggestions. One of  the five core principles referred to anti-social behaviour being “...addressed firmly, fairly and proportionally”, it was agreed that this could be expanded to include “holistically.” Another principle referred to “…high quality customer service.” It was agreed that this could be changed to “...delivering a high quality service for citizens.”

The collection of evidence in support of complaints was a sensitive matter. The council did not employ covert means that require Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act authority and did not ask residents to do so. Gathering data in relation to noise complaints was however straightforward, was not invasive and could be straightforwardly achieved with help from the Council if needed.

The list of circumstances under which the Council  would not investigate a complaint included “Alcohol consumption in a public space that is not causing anti-social behaviour and noise from late night revellers”. It was explained that this was intended to apply to occasional and fleeting incidents in public spaces rather regular incidents relating to particular venues.

It was noted that the Council was committed to removing racist graffiti within 24 hours of it being reported.

The flexible use of verbal or written warnings was an important element of the strategy of employing the lowest level of intervention suitable for a particular case. To require a written warning on every occasion (as a reminder to recipients who may not otherwise remember because, for example, they were inebriated at the time) was not thought, on balance, to be desirable as it would run counter to a flexible and proportionate approach, fettering officers’ discretion on the ground to too great a degree.

The last resort of eviction from a Council property can itself exacerbate or trigger ASB and an explicit reference to that would be helpful as part of the holistic approach to ASB.

It was agreed that the reference to “All complex cases that involve homeless people...”  might helpfully be more nuanced and expanded to embrace those living in supported accommodation.

While not part of the report before the Committee it was agreed that the PSPO covering the area which included the Wolvercote bathing place should be amended to make clear that barbecues are not banned  there.

The Community Safety Service Manager concluded by inviting Members of the Committee to shadow members of his team if they would find that valuable.

The Committee resolved to recommend that the Council:

1. Amends the Anti-Social Behaviour Policy 2022-25 as follows:

i)             Principle three to read “Anti-social behaviour will be addressed firmly, fairly, proportionately and holistically”

ii)            That reference throughout the document to ‘customers’ is reworded around ‘citizens’


2. Amends its Anti-Social Behaviour Procedure 2022-25 as follows:

i)              to include a paragraph on the diversionary activities the Council provides to prevent anti-social behaviour

ii)             to address issues around invasive evidence gathering, and link to best practice guidance

iii)           to note negative impacts associated with anti-social behaviour-related evictions, and reference the Council’s commitment to using this power as a last resort

iv)           To alter s. 7.4 so it reads “All complex cases that involve homeless or vulnerably housed people”




Supporting documents: