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Working Together to Tackle Anti–Social Behaviour

South Tyneside Council has started to get to grips with tackling anti-social behaviour.

The Council has taken a major step forward in identifying what work is currently under way and examining what else needs to happen to tackle the problem.

This was achieved at a unique get together of Councillors, Council Officers, police and other experts at a seminar to explore what is being done to deal with anti-social behaviour.

An audience of 70 representatives heard Councillor Joanne Bell, Lead Member for Community Safety, Amanda Skelton, Executive Director Neighbourhood Services and Supt. Dave Pryer, South Tyneside Area Police Commander, reinforce their commitment to work together in the fight against anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Bell said: "There is a lot of good work going on in the Borough but we recognise that we need to do more to tackle this serious problem. This seminar is the first part of improving the Council's approach to the issue."

Amanda Skelton, Executive Director of Neighbourhood Services said: "The Council is determined to tackle this problem which is of great concern to both Members and Residents in the Borough. We will ensure that we do as much as possible to stamp it out and support the victims of such behaviour. There is a small minority of people who cause serious problems for the community, it is this group of individuals that must be dealt with more effectively."

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The seminar provided the platform from which the Council gave a commitment to tackle the problem by:-

- Targeting the worst offenders within the Borough.
- Tightening up on its re-housing Policy so that those with a previous history of anti-social behaviour do not get a house.
- Making its Tenancy Agreement stronger and enforcing it when its broken.
- Developing a Citizenship Policy so that everyone knows what standards of behaviour are expected of them.
- Getting as many housing management staff out on the patch as possible.
- Providing localised tenancy enforcement and
- Involving residents in tackling the problems on estates.
- Ensuring victims receive support and advice.
- Working more closely with private landlords.

Supt Dave Pryer of Northumbria Police said: "We recognise that the level of disorder and anti-social behaviour is of concern to residents across the Borough. We have outlined our commitment to tackle all forms of disorder within the Borough. We will continue to work closely with the Council, acting upon complaints received and looking at all the powers available to us both through the criminal and civil courts."

Alex Rhind, former Chair of the Northern Consortium of Housing's Anti-Social Behaviour Group gave an inspirational address to delegates outlining the main legal powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour, highlighting examples of good practice and she emphasized the need for a strong partnership approach to the problem.

The Council has already taken a tough stand on tackling the issue of under age drinking. In October 2002 an officer was appointed to tackle the problem of underage sales. To date the Council and Police have visited nearly 100 of the Borough's 150 Off Licenses and spoken to retailers about this issue. One retailer has been prosecuted and fined for selling alcohol to a child.

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