Tag Archives: Council

Passing the Buck

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise. The Council have told me they cannot help.” ‘Janet’, Cheshire.

Many victims of anti-social behaviour complain about how they are passed from one agency to other. In some areas of the country agencies seem very keen to pass the buck and let someone else deal cheap online pharmacy with the issue. In worst cases, a victim is passed back and forth between two agencies (frequently Council or Housing Association and the Police) with no action being taken by either of them. For this reason we set up our Act Now! Guide to help you go to the right agency for the problem you are experiencing. However, you may need determination and perseverance to get results as ‘Janet’ in Cheshire discovered.

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise” she explained. “This has later included intimidating behaviour. I am at the end of my tether and I do not know what else I can do. My health has deteriorated. My self-confidence has been shot to pieces. I do not feel able to open the door unless I know someone is coming. I do not go out into the garden. I keep all my windows and blinds shut constantly.

A noise issue, Janet correctly contacted the Council, even more appropriate because  the perpetrators are also Council tenants. Since first reporting it, she has clearly been given the run around from the Council. They ignored her complaints for over a year until neighbours on the other side also complained. 9 months after that there was a promise of sound-proofing but this is no longer happening and the Council never bothered to inform Janet about this. The last time she called, the ASB Officer was away on 3 weeks annual leave and no one else could help her.

Is it any wonder Janet says “a happy peaceful sanctuary of your own home is no longer possible as no-one cares“? Indeed she now says “the Council have told me they cannot help“.

Our Comments

First of all, the Council cannot possibly be allowed to say they can’t help when they are exactly the agency to deal with their own tenants and noise issues. If the Council is doing nothing, we believe Janet should activate her local Community Trigger and insist on a case review. This would also bring the Police to the table to discuss the situation, especially important given there is intimidation involved too. We cannot let the agencies that are there to protect and assist us be allowed to fob us off, pass the buck, and do nothing. Keep sharing your stories so we can shout louder.

Misinformed

The Council has said they can get audio recording equipment into my flat BUT they would have to ask the perpetrators first for their agreement which I am not comfortable with.” ‘Yvette’, Yorkshire

When ‘Yvette’ moved into her new Council flat, a housing officer told her it should be nice and peaceful (which was what she had requested) because the other residents were all elderly people. When she moved in, she found there were no old people in the flats at all. The Council had completely misinformed her.

Since February 2015 the tenants and friends of tenants in the opposite flat have been knocking on Yvette’s door, rattling it, sometimes banging on it and shouting at her, particularly early morning, evenings, at night and weekends. She also hears separate knocking coming through the walls.

I am tired nearly all the time and I have had to give up my job and go on sick for stress. I have filled in an application form for a housing transfer with the Council but am worried how long it will be before they make me an offer because of how it is affecting my health in the meantime. I am spending money on hostel accommodation to get away from it so not paying my bills as well.

Yvette has filled in diary sheets for the noise nuisance and emails the Council with updates on the situation. “The Council has said they can get audio recording equipment into my flat BUT they would have to ask the perpetrators first for their agreement which I am not comfortable with” she explained.

Our Advice

Yvette has done all the right things. The problem is noise issue and both she and the perpetrators are Council tenants so the Council is the right place to seek help.

We would question the Council’s position on needing to ask permission before installing noise equipment as other Councils have explained how discreetly such equipment can be installed by plain clothes officers to protect the complainant. www.asbhelp.co.uk/tips-getting-evidence

The fact that the Council misinformed her about the other residents is cause for complaint and should be mentioned as part of pushing for a move, and complained about through the Council complaint channels if Yvette feels she has the energy to do that. She could mention the debt being incurred by staying in hotels which has been a knock-on effect of this error by the Council.

We hope a move has now been arranged. If the Council are stalling, Yvette could consider involving the police on the grounds of the verbal abuse she is receiving (harassment and intimidation, not just noise nuisance) or activate the Community Trigger which would lead to a multi-agency review of the whole case which would involve the police too.

Be a Nuisance to get Noticed!

We have generally made a real nuisance of ourselves to the authorities but it seems to be the only way to get noticed.
Nicky, London

“2 all night licenced clubs on our doorsteps with patrons using our roads as giant carparks and waking us up at all hours every single weekend, using gardens as toilets, having sex in cars, doing drugs, boozing, fighting, littering……

Our local council has been totally useless in dealing with our ASB problems and it feels as though our complaints are disappearing into a black hole and that resident’s rights are secondary to those of the club-owners. No-one seems to be held accountable and we are going around in circles despite complaints to councillors and our MP.

We’ve called 101 many times to get proper logging. We have generally made a real nuisance of ourselves to the authorities but it seems to be the only way to get noticed.”

Nicky and her neighbours finally got licence reviews of the clubs after a shocking bank holiday in 2014 where they were tortured for three nights in a row!

It took another whole year and Nicky and another neighbour going to court to finally get the place closed down!

[Source: email correspondence]

Crucial to contact the Right Department

The anti-social behaviour team was useless. They just kept visiting and asking the person to stop making noise. They didn’t seem to know what they were doing. John, Surrey

John owns his house and was distressed to find himself the victim of anti-social behaviour in the residential area with drug dealers on the streets, litter, and noise from neighbouring houses into the early hours of the morning.

He tried to tackle the matter himself first, asking the neighbour verbally and in writing to stop. When the problem continued, he turned to the Local Authority with frustrating results:

“The anti-social behaviour team was useless. They just kept visiting and asking the person to stop making noise. They didn’t seem to know what they were doing.”

John could not sleep nor could he relax as he was thinking about it all the time. Thankfully things were resolved once he spoke to the right people within his Local Authority: Environmental Health.

His advice to victims of ASB is:

“Make sure you speak to the right people at the council. I contacted Environmental Health at the council who were separate from the ASBO team. They resolved my issues in about 3 weeks…they seemed to know what they were doing.”

[Source: online survey]

 

Exhausted trying Everything

“I did everything that they ask for as evidence and they said it wasn’t impartial. They said the only thing that is impartial is an independent witness. I’d asked the council to get someone to stay in my property while I stay away, and they refused.” ‘Anne’, Dartford

‘Anne’, a Council tenant in Dartford, is exhausted having tried everything to get respite from anti-social behaviour. Sadly, she has come to the conclusion that the situation is never going to improve. “I took a diary of events and called the police, who never went round to my neighbour as he was drunk (he is an alcoholic). I got RAM numbers, doctors’ letters, and my neighbours acted as witnesses. The Council installed a noise recorder once after 4 months of no sleep. Once in 10 months. I did everything that they ask for as evidence and they said it wasn’t impartial. They said the only thing that is impartial is an independent witness. I’d asked the council to get someone to stay in my property while I stay away, and they refused.”

The  type of ASB ‘Anne’ suffered included drunkenness, sexual verbal abuse, loud music, shouting and swearing directed at her, bashing on the internal wall and external windows, deliberate door slamming, and dogs barking throughout night and day. She had a break down after 4 months of harassment and sleep deprivation which is now being used against her. As instructed by the Council she kept a diary of events. She also telephoned 101, contacted Citizens Advice, her local MP, local councillors, Shelter, and the local mental health team. She found:

  • that RAM is not held in regard by the council- it is not a shared database the council refused access when offered;
  • what the police say and the council say are very different.
  • that a diary of events is not classed as impartial – it is not EVIDENCE so she was wasting her time.
  • installing a noise recorder is fraught with issues. She had one put in for 1 week in a 10 month period and the Council told the person it was being installed (how can it been right that you have suffered months of ASB and they get a heads up).
  • Doctors’ letters to support a move are not considered impartial.

Sadly, ‘Anne’ has concluded that “there is nothing you can do to change your situation, believe me I exhausted every avenue.” We believe the Community Trigger is a new avenue worth attempting.

[Source: online survey]