The new ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – opportunities and challenges
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 has been three to four years in the making, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that all of the relevant partners are on board and ready to go with the new tools.
Well, for some this is the case but there are still many organisations from across the police, local authority and housing sectors deciding on how to best make this work. Some housing providers still haven’t been contacted by their local authority – have you?
The delay of the new civil injunction might provide some breathing space for those who are not quite prepared, but measures need to be put in place now so that partners can hit the ground running.
During the reforms government sought good practice examples of effective partnership working to evidence that the tools can work. However, not enough is said about the poor practices such as silo working, limited information sharing and geographical differences. This is still a reality for far too many, and may prevent the new tools from being used to best effect.
Here are some of the anticipated opportunities and challenges that face us with the new legislation.
Forcing the hand of information sharing:
With the backdrop of local accountability, community triggers and police and crime commissioners, this might force the hand of information sharing and holding partners to account.
A shared responsibility/shared objectives
The ASB, Crime and Policing Act highlights that ASB is a shared responsibility among partners and the only way to making the tools work best is by working in partnership.
Combining resources/value for money
There are some good examples of partners effectively sharing resources such as offices and IT systems. The new act complements this and could create an opportunity to adopt similar models.
Learning from each other and a less confusing toolbox
One of the biggest problems with the current system is the sheer amount of tools and not knowing what they all do. The new act simplifies the toolbox and will in theory encourage partners to learn from each other when tackling ASB.
Who will take the lead?
Having a tool with multiple applicants will create some challenges in many areas. We still hear about silo working and the inability to share information proactively which may create duplication or leave partners being kept in the dark, unless there is an effective system in place to communicate with partners. Many police authorities have already said that they do not intend to use the new injunction,
Who will pay?
This is one of the biggest questions of all. With money tight in most sectors, who will pay for injunctions when many partners could foot the bill? Will this be decided using the ASB definition? We need to make sure that this does not hold back proceedings when they are necessary, and that victims continue to be protected. Some say that things won’t change and that landlords will continue to use the new injunction in the same way as the ASB injunction. We shall see.
Possession powers – legal challenge is inevitable
It’s important to remember that the new absolute ground is there to expedite proceedings. So, I don’t envisage more evictions as a result of this, but perhaps just a speedier version of existing proceedings where a landlord would normally seek possession. I think the challenges are more likely to be around public law than human rights i.e. did you follow the policies and procedures correctly. One thing is for certain, there will be challenge.
CPNs – will you get the power?
I like the community protection notice as it’s a tool that can deal with many different problems and gives the professionals the ability to use their discretion in how it’s used. While this is a good thing, it could lead to appeals regarding how officers made their decisions so it’s important for the professionals to document how they arrived at the decision. If you are a landlord, you are only going to be able to use this if your local authority allows you to. This could cause problems for landlords that cover lots of different local authorities. We are still waiting for the Secretary of State to give the commencement order to allow local authorities to delegate powers in using the CPN.
So what do you need to do?
It’s important to recognise that in most cases it’s the early intervention mechanisms that work best and using the new tools will only be necessary in approximately 10 to 15 percent of cases. However, when using the tools it is imperative that the ASB case has been managed effectively to give your organisation the best possible chance of achieving the sanctions that are needed. You may wish to consider the following pointers to ensure that the new tools are used effectively:
Speak with your partners to ensure that the tools are being used collaboratively and not in isolation – strategic and operational
Ensure that your ASB case management is robust (opening cases, thorough investigations, managing risk, problem solving, partnership working, closing cases effectively)
Provide training to your staff alongside your partner organisations
If you are part of a court user group, put the ASB, Crime and Policing Act on the agenda and speak with the judiciary with regards to how the partners will be using the tools
For more information or any assistance with managing ASB please contact Chris Grose, head of ASB advisory services, Capsticks LLP via firstname.lastname@example.org