CONNECTING COURTS AND AGENCIES FOR MORE EFFECTIVE ASBOs
The Department for Constitutional Affairs has launched a pilot scheme in eleven county courts to improve the flow of information between agencies involved in anti social behaviour cases. The aim is to make sure that the civil courts get the information they need to smooth the progress of anti social behaviour cases. The scheme is part of the Respect Action Plan announced in January 2006 which sets out how the Government intends to tackle the causes of anti social behaviour.
Effective management of the ASBO process demands true multi-agency working, as enshrined in statute in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which details the concept of partnership working to prevent and reduce crime and disorder. The reality is that at present, there is very little formal information sharing between the agencies involved in managing ASBOs in any given region. Selected information about perpetrators and potential ASBO recipients may be made availlable, but this is primarily during the process of issuing ASBOs and usually on paper or orally. This “need to know” information exchange enables only reactive management, because the information is not readily available to other parties.
County courts are increasingly dealing with anti-social behaviour cases such as nuisance neighbours, crack houses, graffiti and intimidation. The pilots will help to build stronger and more effective working relationships between the civil courts and practitioners and ensure that where individuals take action, victims, witnesses and the local community get the best results possible. Sharing information in this way will also help in streamlining the case management of ASBOs within the courts.
A new anti-social behaviour co-ordinator will act as the main point of contact between the parties and the court and identify where and how communication can be strengthened, or where more training or information needs to be given. The co-ordinator will also monitor changes in legislation and new measures that could affect anti social behaviour cases, and ensure that all relevant organisations or agencies are aware of the new changes.