Community safety policy
This policy outlines our approach to anti-social behaviour and hate incidents, including how we manage and resolve reports, as well as how we use CCTV.
This policy sets out how we deal with reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB), hate-related incidents and hate crime and the action we may take. Our response to ASB applies to Magna Housing residents, other persons causing a nuisance in areas where we own properties, and visitors to these areas where this interferes with our housing management function.
Magna Housing will not become involved in disputes between homeowners (by this we mean between leaseholders or freeholders). In this scenario, independent legal advice should be obtained by the individuals involved, or they can report the matter to the Council Community Safety team and the relevant local authority. We will, however, review all reports we receive to ensure we signpost accurately and give an appropriate response.
We accept that everyone has a right to their chosen lawful, lifestyle providing this does not spoil the quality of life for others. We have an important role in making sure that such rights and obligations are managed effectively. This policy aims to prevent and reduce harm caused by ASB to people and communities.
This policy also sets out how we use CCTV. The safety of our colleagues and customers is always our main priority and we aim to prevent ASB and crime in and around our homes and communities to create great places where people choose to live. One of the ways we can do this is by appropriate installation of CCTV systems. We recognise that CCTV can be intrusive, therefore, justification will not solely come from it being possible, affordable and supported by either customers, colleagues, and agencies or the public.
The policy excludes our response to domestic abuse, as this is dealt with in a separate policy.
Complaints about the way we manage our response to ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime reports are dealt with through our complaints policy.
Behaviour towards our staff and contractors will be dealt with through our unacceptable customer behaviour policy.
If a customer is dissatisfied with our response to a report of ASB or hate-related incident, they may also activate an independent ASB case review, via the community trigger process. This is accessed via the local authority and gives victims the opportunity to ask that their case is reviewed in a multi-agency way if they feel their case has not been dealt with (subject to meeting criteria in that local authority set). A complaint can ask for a review in this way independently of Magna's internal complaints process.
Scope of this policy
We have adopted the following definition of ASB as set in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014:
"Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm, or distress to any person."
"Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person or relation to that person's occupation of residential premises."
"Conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person."
Harassment is the feeling of extreme upset or annoyance caused by being tormented or antagonised. When the word is used in a legal context, it refers to behaviours that have been proven to be threatening to another individual.
Hate-related incidents and hate crime
Some acts of ASB are directed against a person or household because of their colour, disability, gender, sexuality, race, religion, or sexual orientation. These acts can be classed as Hate Crimes. We will actively work with appropriate agencies on such cases. A hate incident is any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility, hate or prejudice. If a hate incident breaks the law, it becomes a criminal offence and therefor, a hate crime.
Hate can manifest itself under many different names (for example homophobia, Islamophobia, or racism) but all hate incidents are serious: everyone has the right to live their life without fear of prejudice, discrimination, and hate. Some hate incidents are obvious, such as name-calling, teasing, so-called banter, and bullying. Some are aimed at whole communities; some are targeted at individuals. Some involve attacks on people or attacks on buildings.
Examples of ASB could include noisy parties, loud arguments or intimidating behaviour, as well as criminal activity such as hate crime, drug dealing, or threats of violence. Issues like pet nuisance, fly-tipping, or an untidy garden we would define as environmental ASB.
We expect the Police to lead on criminal matters.
This policy applies to deployable and mobile CCTV and to fixed CCTV on our customer's homes (where Magna has fixed the CCTV), communal areas, sheltered housing schemes and our offices.
Our community safety commitments
Magna Housing will provide a service that:
- Is aligned with our values, in particular, always safe, all about customers and be kind.
- Meets our customer Service Standards.
- Complies with legal, regulatory, and contractual requirements to prevent and tackle ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime.
- Seeks to ensure a peaceful, quiet, and clean environment in which our customers can live.
- Is harm centred. The level of harm is established by completion of a risk assessment with the complainant.
- Adopts a problem-solving approach.
- Works in partnership to support those affected by ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime.
- Communicate clearly with our customers to explain ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime and our approach, so they understand what they can expect from us and what we can expect from them.
- Expect customers, members of their household and visitors to be considerate, tolerant, and understanding of others and behave reasonably, in accordance with the responsibilities set out in the tenancy and lease agreements.
- Encourage customers to resolve matters with their neighbours where it is safe and appropriate to do so, while being clear about the circumstances in which we may act and how we will proceed where that is the case.
- Ensure customers can easily and safely report incidents and are kept proactively informed about our response.
- Conduct a risk assessment to establish the level of harm the ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime causes to individuals.
- Resolve cases as promptly as we can, using the wide range of methods and legal powers available to us. This means taking reasonable, timely and proportionate action where appropriate.
- Work in partnership with other agencies to prevent and tackle ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime.
- Where the ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime reported constitutes criminal behaviour, we expect customers to report the criminal behaviour to the Police so that we can work effectively together.
- Where the ASB reported is noise related we expect customers to contact and report this to the relevant local authority Environmental Protection team who have responsibility for statutory noise investigations.
- Consider ASB in reviewing and determining whether to offer tenancies.
- Promote our service using media (including social media), our website and customer communications.
- Make it as clear as we can to existing and prospective customers that ASB is unacceptable. If it occurs, a case will be investigated thoroughly, and appropriate action taken.
Reporting ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime
ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime should be reported to Magna Housing at the earliest opportunity. A wide range of methods can be used to do so, including letters, telephone, email, in person and online through our website and social media. We will also receive reports from other agencies such as the Police or Local Authority.
We will only become involved in matters where we are satisfied our intervention is appropriate and may resolve the issue(s), and there is no agency better placed to respond. We will not deal with matters which we consider to be:
- A difference in lifestyle where no actionable ASB is present
- Entrenched personal disputes
- Minor neighbour disputes
- Unintentional / accidental behaviour of children
- Children playing unless they are engaging in ASB
- One off, minimal risk and non-exceptional issues
- Parking disputes
- Boundary issues
- Unpleasant but minor actions eg staring
- Proportionate day to day household noise for example TV, music, radio, electrical items including washing machines and hoovers and DIY at reasonable hours
- BBQs and celebrations
- Cooking odours and reasonable household smells
- Minor car maintenance
- Reports that are not supported by evidence
This is not an exhaustive list.
Although these are examples of behaviour we will not deal with as ASB, we know that sometimes repeated incidents, which may not appear serious when treated in isolation, can have a significant impact on a complainant's life. Therefore, if these types of behaviours are persistent, deliberate and found to be having a harmful impact on a person, then we will investigate the matter as ASB, in line with this policy.
Where Magna Housing receives reports of cannabis use, we will:
- Ask the customer to report this to the Police.
- Consult with the Police where they have been involved and / or there is a proven criminal offence and take reasonable and proportionate tenancy action.
- Consider the nuisance related to the report and act accordingly and in line with current best practice and advice.
Response and investigation
We will adopt a harm-centred and problem-solving approach to managing ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime; this means looking at and prioritising where harm is most likely to occur so it can be managed and minimised. This also ensures that the complainant is dealt with in a supportive way and responded to within the timescales set out in our procedure. This does not mean the report will be resolved within those timescales. Where a report is identified as potentially high harm, we aim to respond within one working day and where it is low harm, we aim to respond within five working days.
During the investigation we will:
- Assess the impact on the complaining and open a case where required.
- Take the complaint seriously.
- Gather evidence from other agencies.
- Expect complainants to complete diary sheets.
- Be risk and outcome focused.
- Seek to establish facts to attempt to solve the problem.
- Develop an action plan with the complainant to try to resolve the problem. This includes agreeing the method and frequency of communication. This action plan will also include what actions should be completed by the complainant.
- Consider the most appropriate action to prevent further incidents.
- Encourage, where appropriate to do so, complainants to speak with their neighbour first as this can often resolve the issue without the need for our involvement. Where this is not possible or appropriate, we will consider the use of professional mediation services or refer to another agency better placed to lead on the issue.
- Consider a wide range of actions, such as encouragement, warnings, mediation and in some circumstances legal action with a focus on solving the problem. All action taken will be reasonable and proportionate.
- Not reveal the identity of any person unless permission is received to do so. However, due to the nature of many complaints we cannot guarantee anonymity.
- Work in partnership with other agencies and stakeholders to tackle ASB.
- Ensure cases are updated and reviewed regularly, with outcomes and timescales recorded on our housing management system. Conduct case review to ensure effective case management through monthly meetings between community safety officers and the safer communities lead.
- Provide support to colleagues managing ASB, through training, team meetings and supervision.
- Log any complaints or reports received on our contact management system, regardless of whether any further action is taken.
Resolving ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime
We will consider using a wide range of tools to tackle ASB. These include but are not limited to:
- Visits including jointly with other agencies
- Referrals to other agencies for support / assistance
- Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC)
- Written warnings
- Support including referrals / signposting to agencies
- Attending multi-agency meetings, case conferences and relevant fora
- Legal remedies under the Housing Acts and Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Acts. For example, possession action and injunctions. These will usually only be considered as a last resort after all other appropriate options have been exhausted
- Support other agencies to use legal remedies, for example Closure Orders
- Target hardening in certain circumstances, for example additional locks, security lights or personal alarms
We will take reports of ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime seriously and adopt a non-judgmental approach. We will offer support to complainants throughout a case where appropriate. This may also include referrals or signposting to support agencies.
We recognise that either a complainant, other party, or a perpetrator may have a support need, and we will aim to offer support where possible.
The Equality Act 2010 is important when we seek resolution as it provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all. The Act makes discrimination unlawful in relation to nine "protected characteristics" it created under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).
The PSED applies to a public authority or to a body who is not a public authority (such as a registered provider), when they exercise a public function. For Magna Housing, it applies in the provision, allocation, and management of social housing.
We will take all practical steps to safeguard and protect customers who may be vulnerable because of a protected characteristic or who have a care and support need. This will be managed with sensitivity and where appropriate, in partnership with other agencies whose support and input will be actively sought. More information about safeguarding customers can be found in our customer wellbeing and support policy.
Should it be necessary to pursue legal action against a vulnerable customer, we will justify our reasons for taking the action beforehand, including by conducting a proportionality review. We will work in conjunction with any support agencies involved with the customer as we move through the enforcement process.
We are aware of our Equality Act duty and will consider these responsibilities when managing cases of ASB.
We recognise the importance of partnership / multi-agency working in addressing ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime. We will develop and maintain effective partnerships with local, national, statutory, and non-statutory agencies who we can work with to tackle issues.
Magna will attend a variety of multi-agency meetings, where we can make a useful contribution. This may include Safeguarding meetings for adults and children, ASB groups (PCG (partnership coordinating group), One team and priorities meetings for example), Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC), and Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). This list is not exhaustive.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 encourages agencies to demonstrate to the Courts that they have tried to work collaboratively to resolve ASB and we are part of this process.
Whilst we work in partnership, our role is that of the landlord. Where responsibility for investigating an incident and / or the tools and powers available sit with another agency, such as the Police or local authority, we will provide that agency with appropriate support and any relevant information to help them resolve the matter.
We will close ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime cases when the behaviour has improved to an acceptable level, or when there is no further reasonable action that Magna Housing can take to resolve the matter, or at the request of the reporting customer.
We will always tell the complainant when and why we are closing a case. We will only consider re-opening a case if there has been a material change in circumstances. We will offer each complainant the opportunity to feed back on how we have dealt with their case after we close it.
We will provide regular training for our customer-facing colleagues, who may receive reports of ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime, and training for colleagues responsible for managing cases.
To effectively tackle ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime, it is essential that staff have the correct skills and knowledge. All new colleagues undergo an induction programme which includes a training plan based upon the needs of their job role and own personal development. Training and development needs are reviewed at least annually for all colleagues.
Confidentiality and information sharing
Any data we collect in the pursuance of this policy and / or performance of our obligations under the terms of the tenancy / lease agreement will be kept securely and will not be retained for any longer than is reasonable. We will comply with all relevant legislation.
We will explain to complainants the importance of the processes in dealing with ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime and that the ability to take legal action may be adversely affected if we are unable to disclose information; and it may be necessary to disclose information to other relevant agencies. We have signed up to the appropriate information sharing protocols with partner agencies.
Section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 allows Magna Housing and partner agencies to share information for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime and disorder. Information will be shared with other agencies, where there is a duty to do so, and / or where information sharing protocols are in place.
We recognise that confidentiality is important to develop a relationship of trust with complainants and we ensure that any information given will be kept in the strictest confidence. However, safeguarding concerns may overrule any confidentiality protocols. Where necessary, we will consult responsibly with other partners by way of a recognised information exchange protocol to help safeguard a customer from risk of serious harm or death.
Before installing CCTV a case-by-case assessment will be completed. This will determine the objectives and ensure compliance with relevant legislation and guidance including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Information Commissioners Office current CCTV code of practice. The assessment will cover but is not limited to:
- Identify the issue or concern that requires CCTV
- Justify the use of CCTV being proportionate in relation to individuals' privacy
- Where there is ongoing ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime, detail should be provided in relation to action taken to date to prevent occurrence and / or obtain evidence
We will review fixed CCTV every five years to ensure that the use remains justified. We will predominantly use overt CCTV, this is CCTV which is in clear view with signage in place to ensure people are aware that the area is covered by CCTV. Signs must be clear, visible, detail the purpose and provide contact details of who someone should contact as specified in the Information Commissioners Office current CCTV code of practice.
Overt CCTV will be located in prominent places within public view and will not face directly into residential homes and / or business premises.
Gathering information via covert CCTV is regulated by:
- Protection of Freedom Act 2012 (POFA)
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Human Rights Act 1988
We will take account of the guidelines set out in the Information Commissioners Office current CCTV code of practice and will comply with POFA and its code of practice containing twelve guiding principles for using CCTV surveillance.
All fixed and mobile CCTV images will be securely stored for a maximum of 30 days unless required for evidential purposes and then they will only be stored for a sufficient period of time to enable a specific incident to be investigated. This is compliant with Data Protection principles.
Access to, or the disclosure of, any images captured on CCTV will only be made in limited circumstances and only to:
- Authorised colleagues, if appropriate
- The Police or prosecution agencies
- Individuals whose images have been recorded under the Data Protection Act 2018
In line with our service charge and sinking fund policy, we will set up, maintain and collect contributions to sinking funds from tenants in line with our occupancy agreements and from leaseholders where the lease permits it for fixed CCTV systems. Where a lease does not require such contributions, we will seek a voluntary agreement with leaseholders.
The Head of Customer and Community Support is responsible for ensuring that the community safety policy is adhered to and for ensuring the policy is reviewed and updated in accordance with the policy review timetable.
The Safer Communities Lead is responsible for delivery of all of Magna's operational procedures relating to issues of community safety, for maintaining accurate ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime related data and is responsible for reporting on ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime management in line with governance arrangements.
Governance, Performance Management and Review
This policy and its associated operational procedure will be monitored and reviewed by the Head of Customer and Community Support. The policy will be considered and approved every three years in accordance with the policy review timetable.
Customer satisfaction with ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime case management outcome and other appropriate performance indicators, will be reported to our Executive Team and / or relevant panels for performance improvement and scrutiny.
We will collect data in accordance with the ASB, hate-related incidents and hate crime Benchmarking service provided by HouseMark and in line with the Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) from April 2023.