Anti-social Behaviour

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There are lots of different types of anti-social behaviour, including vandalism, abuse, noisy neighbours and fireworks. Its impact can therefore range from a slight annoyance to a debilitating impact on an individual’s or community’s quality of life.

Many of the problems are criminal offences and can be dealt with by the police however Doncaster Council also has the power to tackle anti social behaviour. It is important that each person in Doncaster is aware of the law and how they are protected.

This is not to encourage any have-a-go heroes, but to ensure people are informed about what behaviour is unacceptable so that they can let the police or the Council know.

Fireworks - There are a range of measures to deal with the problems caused by the irresponsible use of fireworks but if you feel that you are in any danger call the police immediately.
• Throwing fireworks in the street is illegal and you should contact the police immediately.
• It is also an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to be in possession of a firework in a public place. Anyone found guilty can be issued with an on-the-spot fine by the police, or a court fine of up to £5,000.
• There is a Government curfew on the use of fireworks between 11pm to 7am so if a display is taking place between these hours you are within your rights to call the police.
• It is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to domestic or captive animals, and the fines are heavy: up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 or both. Depending on the severity of the noise, contact the police or the RSPCA

Graffiti and Flyposting - are against the law. There are a number of actions you can take against the vandal as well as getting the damage repaired.
• According to the law, anybody who destroys or damages property is guilty of a criminal offence. If someone is found to be carrying anything that they intend to use to vandalise property they are also liable to be prosecuted.
• If the vandal uses racist language - for example in graffiti or towards the victim - they are guilty of a ‘racially aggravated criminal offence’, which carries a sentence of up to 14 years.
• The Council can force the owners of a property that has been vandalised to clean it up, and you should contact the Environmental Health Officers to make this happen.

Flytipping - It is a criminal offence for anyone to drop litter in the open air or to dump waste in a public or private space not reserved for the purpose (like a council rubbish tip). If you see anyone fly tipping, call the police.
• There are unlimited penalties for anyone caught fly tipping and it is no longer a defence for the person caught to claim they were doing so on the instructions of their employer.
• The law requires local authorities and organisations to clear waste off their land, and also gives them powers to force other landowners to clear any litter on their land.
• Abandoned shopping trolleys can be dealt with by informing the Environmental Health Officer at the local council and asking them to remove them.
• The Council has the power to remove abandoned vehicles from the streets.
• If you suspect that a vehicle has been stolen, call the police. If you are worried that a gang or a certain individual is becoming a problem, contact your ASBO officer at the council.

Mini-motos - can be ridden on private land so long as it does not cause a statutory nuisance. Private land does not include housing estates or parks.
In virtually all cases it is illegal to ride mini-motos on the road.

Youths - loitering in areas can cause some vulnerable residents to feel threatened and anxious. There are a range of measures available to deal with this problem, depending on what the situation is.
• Unsupervised youths on the street at night are a concern, particularly if the area has a problem with anti-social behaviour. If it does, the police have powers to move the groups away and between the hours of 9pm and 6am they can take home unsupervised children under the age of ten if they designate the area as problematic
• The council has powers to force the parents of children under the age of 10 to enter into a ‘parenting contract’ whereby they are responsible for their child's behaviour.
• If none of the measures fully suit, there is always the option of imposing an ASBO if the problem is recurring and it's the same individuals causing the distress.
• Young people under the age of eighteen are not allowed to consume alcohol in a public place and the police and community support officers have powers to confiscate alcohol from young people who are drinking or intend to drink alcohol.

Problem Neighbours - If you are suffering as a result of a noisy neighbour, the first solution may be to speak directly to the neighbour about your concerns. The neighbour could be unaware that they are causing a problem and an amicable conclusion may be reached.
• In social housing the courts have the power to grant injunctions against anti-social behaviour with the possibility of attaching a power of arrest. Injunctions are a swift, inexpensive and effective means of stopping anti-social behaviour.
• Local authority landlords may apply for these orders against anyone who has used or threatened violence against someone else going about their lawful business in the locality of the local authority housing stock, but landlords of other types of social housing can apply for orders only against their own tenants.
• You have to provide evidence of the activity complained of and the court must conclude that there will be a continued threat of harm if the order is not granted.

• In privately rented housing a landlord has the power to evict a shorthold tenant under the Housing Act 1998, and if the tenant living in the house is guilty of behaviour that has caused or is likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to a person residing or going about their business in the area then the landlord can seek a court order for eviction.
• This applies if the tenant or a person living in the property is using the house to deal drugs. As a first step, you should advise the landlord or the managing agent of the property concerned that the tenant is causing a nuisance.

• In privately owned homes eviction is not an option instead you could ask for an ASBO to be put on the occupier, and there are provisions to enable the police or local authority to place an Order on the individual stopping them from behaving in a way that "causes innocent people distress or fear".

Harrassment - Since 1997 there have been laws introduced to help assist those who are victims of stalking and harassment. This can include problems with abusive neighbours or the intimidation of individuals.
• Examples include verbal abuse, physical abuse or threat of physical abuse, or intimidation. This could take the form of loitering outside your house or following you, nuisance phonecalls, text messages or emails.
• As this kind of behaviour is a criminal offence you are advised to report to the police IMMEDIATELY after an incident occurs and make sure you get issued a crime or incident number.
• Keep a diary of the incidents and keep it in a safe place.
• Discreetly make family and friends aware of your situation but do not get a friend to ‘warn off’ the perpetrator as this may count against you when you get to court. It is not unknown for such people to claim that you've been stalking them rather than the other way around.

Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central
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