Category Archives: 2016

Can you Read and Write?

 

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a workshop at the Resolve ASB annual conference on “Putting Victims First”.  I co-led the workshop with an ASB practitioner from Greater Manchester who is passionate about putting victims first and led the section on how we do that practically. Her casual mention of the fact she asks people “can you read or write?” before she leaves them with a diary really struck me.

Diaries are a classic way to start gathering evidence in cases of anti-social behaviour.  Yet, I wonder how many practitioners do ask that question: “Can you read and write?”  It might seem an unnecessary question but it really got me thinking.  Whilst the UK boosts 99% literacy, it is widely recognised that more than 1% of the population are functionally illiterate and struggle with reading information from unfamiliar sources or on unfamiliar topics.

There are also people whose second language is English who may particularly struggle to write in English.  What struck me with Janice’s comment was how aware she was of all the hurdles that could be placed in front of a victim of anti-social behaviour.  She showed through and through a victims-first approach.

Hurdles to reporting ASB

Anti-social behaviour is under-reported, and sometimes when it is reported, action is not taken nor is the victim taken seriously.  How many of the most vulnerable in our society are in those two categories – either they find the whole experience of trying to report an incident of anti-social behaviour too overwhelming, or once they pluck up the courage, they may struggle to clearly articulate the problem and are fobbed off or ignored.  Or sent a letter with further information which they find incomprehensible due to unfamiliar terms and an overload of jargon …

Speaking at a Surrey ASB Practitioners Forum last month, I urged delegates to keep their communication clear, remove jargon, and take time to explain unfamiliar processes such as the court system.  It can be easy to forget that victims have no clue about all this.

At that forum I was challenged by someone about how accessible we as a charity really are.  She commented that only a small proportion of victims of ASB would have access to the Internet to find our website, and then only a small proportion of them would be able to read through the content we have there.  I feel that is harsh and unfair.  92% of the UK population has access to the Internet and we have sought to make our information as clear as possible for victims.  Yes, they need to be able to read, though they may have advocates who can access the information and share it with them.  Unfortunately anti-social behaviour is such a complex topic that it cannot be simplified too much – we are keen not to mislead victims that it is easy to define and easy to resolve.  Usually it is not.

Yet this is a good question to keep holding out there: “Can you read and write?” We are a small charity and are aware that we cannot yet reach the most vulnerable in our society who do not have access to the Internet and cannot read English.  Yet it is worth remembering, anti-social behaviour can hit anyone, anywhere – it is not just areas of deprivation – and therefore we believe there are still many people who can benefit from our resource.  For those who are isolated, our hope is that someone somewhere will listen and connect them to the help and advice they need.  That when they pick up the phone to report the problem, the official at the other end listens carefully, chooses to put the victim first and takes prompt action to help them.

Tips for Putting Victims First

Janice’s tips for how to keep victims in the centre were:

  1. Prioritise going to talk to the victim after they call in to report the ASB (in the next couple of days, not a week next Thursday!  Note: visit, not write)
  2. Empathise and really listen to what they are sharing
  3. Do not downplay what they say but ensure they feel that you care about the effect the behaviour is having on them (such as sleep deprivation, effect on work/school performance, health impact, fear, anxiety, isolation, etc.)
  4. Clearly explain what you plan to do, what you can do and what you can’t do to help them
  5. Check in with them on an ongoing basis to see how they are coping and whether the behaviour has improved if a warning has been given

Halloween Headache

The witching hour is upon us once again – for some a source of great fun, for others something to be dreaded. I think you probably either love or hate Halloween! What comes to your mind when you think about this time of year? The clocks going back, gathering round a bonfire or going to a fireworks display, children dressed up in a vast array of Halloween outfits? As a child I remember going down to the local fireworks display, bundled up in hat, scarf and gloves.

I don’t remember anything much going on for Halloween. That has definitely increased in recent years. There is a spike in anti-social behaviour over the two events of Halloween and Bonfire Night. Police officers know it and increase their patrols. Some areas run special Operations to target anti-social behaviour over these two weekends.

It can be a time of deep fear for some people, especially the most vulnerable. The elderly, people with disabilities or suffering ill health (physical or mental) may find the modern-day celebrations of Halloween scary or threatening. Misuse of fireworks is dangerous and can be frightening.

Victims of persistent anti-social behaviour are already struggling to cope with the effects of noise or harassment, or environmental ASB. Some will use Halloween and Bonfire Night as an excuse to make their lives even more unbearable. Others may not realise the harm and distress they are causing and that Halloween and Bonfire Night antics may push their neighbour’s over the edge in what they can cope with.

To those taking part in Halloween and Bonfire Night activities:

Remember they are not an excuse to make a nuisance of yourself nor get into trouble with the law. Respect the fact some of your neighbours may not want to join in the fun. Be considerate of them, for example many young children and pets are very scared of bangs, elderly people may be terrified of opening the door to a stranger in the dark.

To those who do not like getting involved:

Prepare for the events so that you are not caught off-guard. Respect those who wish to celebrate Halloween and Bonfire Night and know how you will respond. Be tolerant of a bit of noise – it is only once a year after all. If you feel scared, have a look at our tips for coping with that.

HOWEVER, if things get out of hand, and especially if you are already a victim of persistent anti-social behaviour and this is the final straw, or you are being targeted and harassed, please please report it to the authorities. They can only act if they know about the problem. Act Now! Don’t suffer in silence. The police are on high alert awaiting your call.

2 Years On: The Battle Continues to put Victims First

Today is 20th October 2016 – it marks the two year anniversary of the implementation of the majority of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  (I say majority because the injunctions were delayed until 2015).

A year ago I published a blog on my Trigger Thoughts and how little we knew about whether the Community Trigger was being accessed and activated by those who needed it.

At the two year anniversary, we have a lot of data and evidence to show that the Community Trigger, as suspected, is fraught with problems.  Our recent report The Community Trigger: Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise? highlighted the issues around this particular power.  It has been misunderstood by many agencies, the statutory guidance has been completely disregarded with respect to making it clearly accessible to victims, and data on its usage has not been reported.

We will continue to campaign for a Community Trigger that is fit for purpose.  We will continue to pressure government bodies to take responsibility for ensuring the legislation and statutory guidance is complied with and to step up for victims and make the necessary, and perhaps radical, changes required to truly put victims first in this process.

There was a recent debate in the House of Lords about the PSPO which led to a commitment to review the statutory guidance.  This review was also mentioned this week, specifically in relation to a question about the efficacy of the Community Trigger and Community Remedy.  It is music to my ears to hear others raise similar questions to us about this legislation.  I would however question the response of ensuring the guidance “remains relevant and up-to-date”.

ASB practitioners referring to the guidance would, I am sure, agree with me that it is not so much a question of relevancy and being up-to-date, as it is a question of clarity on how some of these powers should work (for example, the consultation process for PSPOs).  We want to ask the following:

bullet    Who is reviewing it?

bullet    Are they ensuring there is input from a range of practitioners?

bullet    Will they be brave enough to make radical changes to ensure victims are put first?

bullet    And who will ensure local areas are implementing the guidance?

For it is not really about how the guidance reads.  It is about who is responsible for its implementation and for ensuring it is being followed.  The statutory guidance can say anything – it will be irrelevant if not followed, as proved by our Community Trigger research with respect to making it accessible to victims and the reporting of data.

We have submitted our suggestions for how the guidance could be improved with respect to the Community Trigger but I am today convinced that our input needs to go deeper than that – to champion the victim which is supposed to be at the heart of each power in the legislation.  I am concerned that if we do not, no one else will, and the guidance will experience minor tweaks and we will still be none the wiser as to the efficacy of the legislation.

Incidentally, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Home Office did not answer Douglas Carswell’s question.  He asked about policy to review the efficacy of the Community Remedy and Trigger.  She responded that the guidance would be reviewed.  He didn’t ask about how good the paperwork was – he asked about how effective the powers were.  Surely you would have to ask practitioners and victims that question …

I read this article in The Third Sector today – a reminder that we must get to work, we have a goal to achieve.  ASB Help has certainly not reached the charity stage Matthew Sherrington refers to where “organisational structure, systems and process start soaking up a lot of energy”.  This is a strength and advantage that on this 2nd anniversary motivates us to keep shouting up for victims so that in practice, not just rhetoric, they are put first.

The Community Trigger. Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise?

ASB Help has launched a report after considerable research into the Community Trigger. The report asks whether this power has created the intended empowerment for victims or whether in practice it is nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise. Please see below for the Executive Summary. The full report can be read here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Community-Trigger-Empowerment-or-Bureaucratic-Exercise-Sept16.pdf

Executive Summary

In May 2012 the Home Office issued a White Paper entitled ‘Putting Victims First: more effective responses to anti-social behaviour’. This was a precursor to the development of the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. In her foreword, the Home Secretary at the time (our current Prime Minister) stated that the government wanted to empower victims and communities. It is worth quoting the full paragraph here:

We want to empower victims and communities. Too often people in a local area are desperate to have the behaviour that’s blighting their neighbourhood dealt with, they just don’t know how to get the authorities to take action. Elected Police and Crime Commissioners and neighbourhood beat meetings will help, but we will support local communities by introducing a new Community Trigger to compel agencies to respond to persistent anti-social behaviour. We are working with a number of leading local areas, including Manchester, West Lindsey and Brighton & Hove to trial the trigger this year.[1]

Following a long tradition in the field of anti-social behaviour, no plans were put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of legislation brought in to address the issues identified in the White Paper. This report specifically analyses the way in which the Community Trigger has been introduced in law, interpreted around the country, and utilised in practice. It will indicate a wide breadth of usage and a situation that falls far short of the aim of empowering victims. In many cases, we would suggest it is nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise, creating more paperwork, draining already tight resources, and yet still not bringing desperately-needed respite for victims.

Specific issues we have identified in this report are that:

bullet there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;

bullet there has been limited does cialis work with alcohol publicity of the Community Trigger meaning that many victims who would be entitled to activate it are unaware of its existence;

bullet statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and

bullet data on its usage is very difficult to obtain and effectively compare.

Alongside these issues, we are concerned that victims are not being properly represented or heard in the case reviews that do take place. Fundamentally, victims of anti-social behaviour are not being put first.

ASB Help was set up after the landmark case of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca in 2007 in desperation after police failed to adequately respond to her 33 calls to report harassment. The Community Trigger should be a power that can prevent another case like the Pilkington one occurring. Without some important changes to the way it is being both interpreted and used in practice, we believe another Fiona Pilkington could easily happen again. We believe she would not have known it existed given the lack of promotion and if in her area the only way of activating the Trigger was through the Police by calling 101 it is highly unlikely she would have had the emotional strength to try that given all her past difficult experiences of calling that very same number. There is potential in the Trigger but work needs to be done to make it more accessible and improve agency attitudes towards its purpose.

[1] Home Office. Putting Victims First. More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour. May 2012, page 3

NEWS RELEASE: Community Trigger fails to empower

Anti-social behaviour tool for victims in some areas a pointless bureaucratic exercise

Just ahead of the two year anniversary of the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a new report finds how one legal power in particular is not fit for purpose. The new Act aimed to put victims first and in particular bring swift respite to victims of persistent anti-social behaviour.

The Community Trigger, also called the ASB Case Review, was designed to empower victims, enabling them to insist on a multi-agency case review to get results and stop the behaviour that was having such a devastating attack on their lives. The report, entitled “Community Trigger. Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise?” by charity ASB Help calls for a re-evaluation of how the Community Trigger is being interpreted by local authority areas to ensure the statutory guidance is followed with particular regard to its accessibility and promotion to reach the most vulnerable victims.

The key issues are that:

bullet there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;

bullet there has been limited publicity of the Community Trigger meaning that many victims who would be entitled to activate it are unaware of its existence;

bullet statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and

bullet data on its usage is very difficult to obtain and effectively compare

Jennifer Herrera, Chief Executive Officer of ASB Help said: “In October 2014 we welcomed the introduction of the Community Trigger as an important form of empowerment for victims who are not being heard by local agencies. Unfortunately, it has not been championed locally and victims are still left to suffer. We believe that another case like that of Fiona Pilkington (who killed herself and her daughter Francecca after suffering ongoing harassment and not receiving support from local agencies) could easily happen again without important changes to the Trigger. There is potential but work needs to be done to make it more accessible and improve agency attitudes towards its purpose.”

To read the full report: http://asbhelp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Community-Trigger-Empowerment-or-Bureaucratic-Exercise-Sept16.pdf

Ends

About ASB Help ASB Help is a national UK charity seeking to assist victims of anti-social behaviour as to their rights – who they should report the anti-social behaviour to and crucially, what to do if they do not get a satisfactory response. The charity is represented on the Home Office Anti-Social Behaviour Advisory Board. To find out more about ASB help visit: http://asbhelp.co.uk/ For media enquiries, contact CEO Jenny Herrera, jherrera@asbhelp.co.uk 0203 5030797

Why me?

This is having a profound effect upon my life and feels extremely unfair.” ‘Amber’, London

The cry of ‘Why me?’ is a common one in all areas of crime and anti-social behaviour. We would also suggest it is not a helpful route of thought to take. That is because there is often no answer to the question. Why do some people go through life never experiencing any anti-social behaviour? Why do others get unlucky with where they live, either with their neighbours or more generally in the local area? Why should someone have to invest time in sorting out a problem they never looked for?

Yet, to get results in ASB and bring peace back to your home, you will have to. The best thing is to accept this fact and channel your frustration and perhaps even anger into getting results. ‘Amber’ is a victim of noise disturbance as well as littering and verbal aggression and abuse. The music is loud enough to hurt her ears and the slamming and stamping is so severe the walls shake. Her experience on reporting ASB is that the agencies move the problem back and forth. Police refer her to the Council ASB team, the Council ASB team refer her to the Police, Environmental Health to the ASB team and so on.

I am stressed and cannot relax in my own home. I get very little sleep and have had to use annual leave at short notice sometimes after being kept awake – until 5am some days. I feel the system is weighted toward the tenants who cannot be evicted all that quickly despite non-payment of rent. This is having a profound effect upon my life and feels extremely unfair. Why should my work reputation and employment and health be at risk because of the behaviour of these people?”

Our Comments

Amber is quite right. Why should her work and health be at risk because of the ASB of these people? It is not right that she is being passed from one agency to another when there is new legislation in place to make it easier to act. The agencies MUST decide who is going to take the lead on this case and use the tools available to them. Environmental Health can look at a noise abatement order, the ASB team an Injunction perhaps. We would advise Amber not to dwell on the ‘Why me?’ question and instead carry on fighting. Tenants can be evicted more easily now if they do not respond to warnings. Don’t let agencies fob you off. Be persistent and force a case review by activating the Community Trigger.

When to Approach your Neighbour

We have approached them many times to try to resolve our issues, but it usually reverts to its original form. Recently we told them we have had enough and that unless it stops, we will approach the authorities.” ‘James and Carolyn’, Southampton

‘James and Carolyn’ have experienced a lot of anti-social behaviour from their next door neighbours who drink and then become loud and abusive. This happens nearly every weekend when other family members visit and stay over. James and Carolyn are subjected to late night noise in the form of shouting, screaming, swearing, and slamming doors; also continual barking from their dog, which they leave in the garden. Nice weather also brings trouble as they gather in their garden with really loud music and lots of beer; their method of communication is to shout above the music.

“It has made my husband and I feel quite stressed at times, however we are resolute that we will not be browbeaten by them,” says Carolyn. “We have approached them many times to try to resolve our issues, but it usually reverts to its original form. Recently we told them we have had enough and that unless it stops, we will approach the authorities. We had peace for two weeks, then it began again; hence the authorities have now been notified.”

She reminds all victims that they should not give in to being bullied, that we all have the strength to stand up for our rights to live in peace and to be able to relax in our own home.

Our Comments

James and Carolyn’s approach is one worth highlighting as best practice, though it will of course depend on the circumstances. As a charity we want to get the balance right between tackling the problem yourself and reporting it to the relevant authorities.

It seems that emotions run high on this issue. It is all rather subjective which means there is often no obvious right and wrong method as a victim to deal with the problem, just as for the agencies when it gets to more serious measures. If a neighbour is making noise that is causing you distress and you call in the police, it is not likely to do much for your relationship with your neighbour. It could cause resentment and make the problems worse.

Usually it is right to try something less severe first. Maybe all that is needed is to simply go round and ask them if they could turn the music down (or stop slamming doors, hoovering in the middle of the night, etc.). Some people would prefer to write a short note and pop it through their letterbox, asking them to please keep the noise down (it is worth keeping a copy of what you wrote in this note in case it gets worse as evidence of what you have done yourself to tackle the problem).

Of course we would not want to see anyone put themselves at risk. In volatile situations, for example where alcohol and drugs are involved, confrontation could be dangerous (as in the tragic death of Garry Newlove who confronted a gang in Warrington http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7176471.stm). Also, if you are struggling to cope with your frustration at the behaviour, there is a risk you will in turn be threatening and abusive in the way you speak to them, something they could report you for, or at least accuse you of, which might weaken your case.

Another victim completing our survey told us that after reporting ASB of extremely loud music, revving of engines, shouting and the strong smell of cannabis, the police, having called at the house of the perpetrators, said it was not advisable for her, or other neighbours to try and solve the issues because of the type of characters they were dealing with. We would suggest this is also true where the perpetrator is suffering from poor mental health. Where there is evidence of potential schizophrenia or bi-polar behaviour, it would be advisable to contact your local Mental Health department rather than speak directly to the individual to ensure there are no misunderstandings and that their health is adequately catered for.

James and Carolyn have now reported their neighbours to the authorities. It looks like they were left with no alternative after numerous attempts to approach them have failed. For many neighbour disputes, agencies are likely to ask you if you have spoken to your neighbours first. If you do this in a polite way, you may find the problem immediately goes away. It may be worth trying.

Those Summer Nights

Summer brings an increase in anti-social behaviour. With warmer weather and longer days there are more people out and about, gathering together on street corners and parks, or in their homes. This is all wonderful. In the last week alone I have attended an evening BBQ, hosted a dinner party including pre-dinner drinks out in the garden, and been part of a big family group enjoying a picnic and games in the local park. I love the chance to be out and about and enjoy that atmosphere of friendship and fun together. The problem comes when either a gathering gets out of hand, or when the initial motivation was one of causing nuisance in the first place. Agencies report a clear increase in alcohol-related incidents in the summer. Not only can this create noise as well as littering, it can intimidate other people and become a nuisance that would deter others from using community spaces. We need to be considerate of others when we gather with our friends.

Being Considerate of Others

Keep in mind:

bullet Not everyone is on holiday – your neighbours may be getting up for work the next morning and need their sleep.

bullet Remember that if you have opened your windows in the warm weather, any household noise will be amplified

bullet In the warm weather, bad smells are exacerbated so remember to dispose of waste properly including cleaning up after your dog! Perhaps it’s time to attack that untidy garden
too.

bullet We all spend more time out in the garden in the summer – sometimes disputes arise between neighbours with regard to boundary hedges and fences – try and use the opportunity of being out in your garden more to approach your neighbor and build up a relationship, not to pick a fight.

bullet Take a deep breath when the noise from children and teenagers gets too loud. We were all children once and it is good to see them outside enjoying some fresh air, rather than stuck in front of computer games all day long. Let’s get the best out of these current warm days.

Summer is often all too short – let’s enjoy it responsibly and try and be reasonable. If you are struggling (and tempers can flare much quicker in the hot weather) see our tips on coping with frustration and anger.

Ensuring Great Summer Holidays

Children will get bored if they are just at home all summer. Many areas have free activities going on for children of all ages – why not ask at your local library and see what’s on offer? If you live in a flat or house with poor insulation, be considerate of your neighbours if your children are inside all summer. It might be worth getting out and meeting your neighbours and taking the opportunity to apologise in advance for the nuisance your children could cause with their noise (or balls going over the fence, etc). This can be powerful – instead of allowing resentment to grow in your neighbour’s mind, you build a relationship instead, or improve a strained one.

Community Action

If there is an issue going on in your street or more widely in your community, the summer can be a good time to get out and find out what other residents think. It could lead to positive steps to make a difference in your area – perhaps form a Neighbourhood Watch or Residents’ Association. There is power in numbers and you may be eligible to activate the Community Trigger if nothing is happening in your local area. You may also decide it is worth gathering signatures for a petition to push for action.

Suffering Anti-Social Behaviour?

If you are suffering as a result of anti-social behavior, especially one that is alcohol-related, then report it to the relevant agency. Most are at the ready in the summer, with different operations to focus on tackling anti-social behaviour so do not be afraid to contact them for help.

Housing Association failure

Every organisation has been helpful but not my landlords.” Edward, Essex

Noise which has turned into harassment is pushing Edward into deep despair. He shares of his feelings of frustration, unhappiness, mistrust, helplessness, anger and loneliness which is with him every day. Add to that tiredness – the mental and physical fatigue with the anti-social behaviour itself as well as with the lack of answers to solve the problem.

What started as slamming fire doors has developed to his neighbours making intimidating war cries when he turns his TV or kettle on, cheering when he leaves the house and giggling when a drill was turned on at 1:30am.

Edward has turned to his Housing Association to get results and has been met with sheer incompetence and apathy. They have lost a diary he submitted last year, say they will visit the neighbour but do not, and say that they have visited Edward but he was there and heard no knock, and in any case they could have pressed the buzzer instead. They have been obstructive at every turn.

It sounds like the landlord isn’t too bothered to really investigate the situation. Edward sums it up: “every organisation has been helpful but not my landlords.”

Edward now listens to his TV with headphones or subtitles and goes out to the library or anywhere but home.

Our Analysis

This is clearly wrong. Edward is in deep despair but the Housing Association has shown a complete failure to act. The victim is being ignored, fobbed off, probably because they know intervention will create a lot of work. That is NOT a reason not to act.

We would definitely recommend that Edward activate the Community Trigger. By activating this multi-agency case review, we would expect to find the Council and Police making strong recommendations to the Housing Association to address this anti-social behaviour and bring much-needed respite to Edward.

Fly Tipping: What You Should Know About This Environmental Offence

At first glance, fly tipping may not seem as problematic as getting harassed by your landlord or living with incredibly noisy neighbours. But, if you look closer, you’ll see that it’s actually a serious environmental crime that can lead to several consequences. For one thing, it can pollute the air, land, and water (particularly if hazardous waste is dumped), exposing you and your family to various illnesses. If left unattended, it can even promote the growth of crime and lead to the degradation of your neighbourhood!

What is fly tipping?

Fly tipping refers to the act of illegally dumping of waste on any land as well as to the act of dumping waste material on land that’s not allowed to accept it. Dumping waste in lay-bys, verges, back alleyways, public highways, and farmland counts as fly tipping, along with placing items by litter bins or recycling bins. Fly tipping is usually committed by homeowners who wish to avoid the hassle of properly disposing of bulky rubbish as well as those who simply don’t know that fly tipping is illegal. It’s also committed by rogue traders who collect waste for cash from homeowners and shop owners then illegally dispose of them. Fly tipping has become a huge problem in the UK. You’ll see or hear about fly tipping cases in many parts of the country almost every day. Some local authorities don’t seem to care too much about this problem, responding to only a few reports and generally allowing illegally dumped rubbish to languish for days or weeks. Others, meanwhile, have a stricter approach and make it a priority to catch and persecute fly tippers ASAP.

What can you do about fly tipping?

First of all, don’t be a fly tipper! Just because some people do it doesn’t mean you should. Remember: if you get caught fly tipping, you’ll have to pay hundreds or thousands of pounds in fines, court costs, and victim surcharges, and you may even end up in prison. If you want to dispose of large or bulky items, contact your local authorities and ask if they have a bulky waste collection service. If they don’t, you can use a reputable private contractor to dispose of your waste. Of course, be vigilant about fly tipping in your community.

If you notice someone illegally dumping waste, you’ll need to report them to your local council. Make sure to take note of the date, time, and location of the incident, the type of waste that was dumped, the name of the perpetrator (if you know them), and the registration number of the vehicle used by the perpetrator. Your local authorities should act right away but, if they don’t, make sure to follow up your request ASAP. Don’t wait too long, particularly during summer since the heat will make biodegradable waste go bad quickly and release an offensive smell.

Also, leaving illegally dumped waste unattended for long can contribute to the broken-window effect, which means your neighbourhood gets less desirable over time and becomes a breeding ground for more serious crimes. If your local council ignores your request, you and your neighbours can start a petition. Doing this can be helpful since it shows the authorities that many people have noticed the problem and are looking for a solution. You can go to www.asbhelp.co.uk/petition to find tips on making a petition.