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Taking on ASB: Legal action against disruptive groups on our estates

24 November 2022

When communities and neighbourhoods are created, it’s common to get groups of people gathering and interacting as a way of getting to know each other. However, when groups of people begin to gather in an area and engage in unlawful activities, misuse the area, create excess noise, or intimidate people, it becomes anti-social behaviour (ASB). In this ‘Taking on ASB’ feature we focus on group disorder and how we tackle it on the estates we manage.

When a group of people gather and their behaviour shows signs of a criminal nature, it’s important you report it to the police and raise your concerns about your safety. We will support police investigations and where possible, we would put measures in place on our estates to address the behaviour.

Successfully stopping a group of young people from taking over an estate

Recently, on one of the estates in London that we manage, our neighbourhood team received many reports from residents of groups of young people creating a disturbance in the communal staircase and underground car park. The reports included blocking the staircase, smoking drugs, making noise, causing fires and intimidating residents. The group of young people would also come to the building on mopeds with helmets on that cover their faces so that we could not identify them while they caused anti-social behaviour (ASB). We were only able to initially identify one member of the group who lived in the building as the rest of the group did not live on the estate.

The group would usually include five to nine young men who were also known to create the same type of ASB on other estates in the area. Their behaviour would get worse each time they visited which created an unpleasant community for the residents and left them in fear to walk around their own neighbourhood.

Residents had reported the behaviour to the police who would come and remove the young men from the blocks, but they were unable to arrest them unless they found drugs or criminal activity. The young men continued to return, therefore we needed to do something else in addition to police presence.

We tried a range of tactics to deter the young men from returning to the estate, including blocking off bin room door, adding a GERDA lock box on top of the fire man drop dawn access key and installing CCTV on the top floor where they would gather. As our tactics did not work, we had to take a different approach. Our neighbourhood team decided to try and obtain Injunctions against the young men that would legally ban them from coming on the estate. Taking this approach would be costly, time consuming and require a lot of resources, but it was something we had to try so we could return the estate to a peaceful and pleasant place for residents.

For us to apply for an injunction, we had to not only identify the young men, but also spend months gathering evidence by working with other teams, organisations, and residents. The Local Safer Neighbourhoods Police and our inhouse security team were able to provide us with body camera footage of the young men on the estate as well as written statements that confirmed sightings of the individuals. Our cleaning contractor, Pinnacle, provided information and pictures, and we worked with residents to show how the ASB caused by the young men was affecting their quality of life and our ability to provide housing management services. Our neighbourhood team also worked with Westminster ASB team to organise a case conference with the landlords of the men that were causing the ASB.

After months of careful planning and joint working with other agencies and residents, we applied for nine Injunctions without notice against the identified young men. The case was brought to court, but we had to serve notice to the young men to give them a chance to represent themselves. After serving our notice, we had another hearing where two of the defendants attended court to defend the injunction order, but they were not successful.

As a result of our alternative approach this type of ASB, we were able to successfully and lawful ban the young men from our estate for two years. We also contacted the young men’s landlords who contacted their family to inform them of their behaviour on our estates.

The residents on the estate are now very happy with where they live as they are no longer fearful of being intimidated in their own home. Our cleaning contractors and housing management team are also able to effectively deliver a service on the estate as they no longer spend excess time dealing with the ASB caused by the young men.

This was a difficult situation for us to resolve quickly as we had to identify the young men involved before we could start the legal proceedings. However, with the support of residents and joint working with external agencies, we were able to successfully remove them from the estate. There have been no further reports of young people causing ASB on this estate, and no further vandalism to the blocks.

What to do if you’re experiencing anti-social behaviour (ASB)

If you’re experiencing anti-social behaviour, you can find out what to do using our ASB toolkit on our website. The toolkit has details about the different types of ASB that occur and what to do depending on the incident.

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