Headlines: February 15th, 2005

Intensive family support will be introduced in 50 anti-social behaviour action areas to bring relief to communities plagued by the small number of neighbours who cause havoc through anti-social behaviour. They will be offered a ‘last-chance’ to turn around their behaviour. Neighbour nuisance often involves both parents and children and can result in serious physical and emotional problems for victims and eviction for perpetrators.It is expected that more than 1,000 families will be targeted over the next year with programmes that will offer them a ‘last chance’ to accept support and turn around their behaviour, or face the consequences. They will build on the package of measures – acceptable behaviour contracts, parenting orders, ASBOs and on-the-spot fines. There are also plans to introduce compensation orders for damage by under 10s.

Action against nuisance neighbours is co-ordinated by the nuisance neighbour panels, launched a year ago. They bring together experts from local authorities, the police, youth offending teams, social services and the voluntary sector. The panels provide an expert advisory service to local authorities and social landlords, who can nominate their most challenging nuisance neighbour problems.

Key findings from the Home Office’s survey of the first 100 cases seen by the neighbour nuisance expert panels are that: 67 per cent of cases were families – half of whom were lone parents, and the remainder couples with children. In 25 per cent of all cases the perpetrator had moved into their current accommodation following eviction from social housing. 50 per cent of cases involved threatening and intimidating behaviour, with noise, criminal activity, criminal damage and violence towards others being the other most common complaints. Many cases had been dragging on for many years, the longest standing case having lasted for 18 years. In 66 per cent of the cases, follow-up showed that behaviour had improved and the problems curtailed.