Justice Minister David Ford has hosted a seminar to help clarify the roles and responsibilities of organisations in tackling anti-social behaviour.
The seminar is the first in a series to ensure that the statutory response to anti-social behaviour is delivering for the community who consistently raise it as a key area of concern in community safety surveys.
Those in attendance included the PSNI, the NI Housing Executive, local Councils, Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs), NI Federation of Housing Associations and the Department for Social Development.
Minister Ford said: “While for the majority of people, anti-social behaviour has a minimal impact on their quality of life, we know that for many others it can have a serious effect, particularly for the vulnerable. Tackling anti-social behaviour is a key priority for my Department and indeed the Executive through the Community Safety Strategy.
“Given the varying nature of anti-social behaviour, a number of organisations are involved in addressing it. This seminar will help raise awareness at an operational level of the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies.
“This is by no means in order to create demarcation lines. Indeed it is about creating the opposite. Given the complex nature of anti-social behaviour no organisation can draw a line around where their responsibility begins and ends. Partnership working is the key to tackling this issue. I want to ensure that everyone involved has knowledge of the responsibilities of others and the powers available to them so that they can work in a more collaborative way to develop local solutions to local problems.”
The event was organised by the Anti-social Behaviour Delivery Group, established by the Department of Justice, whose role is to take forward the anti-social behaviour Action Plan from the Community Safety Strategy, which was published in 2012. This event is specifically for A, B, C, D and H Police Districts. A similar event will also be held for E, F and G Districts.
In a follow up to the seminars, the Department will soon be launching a PCSP leaflet for the public to provide some further information on anti-social behaviour and who to contact for help. Information is also available on http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/tackling-anti-social-behaviour
Minister Ford continued: “It is vital that there is a clear understanding of what constitutes anti-social behaviour. I consider that the distinction between anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour has perhaps become blurred. The term anti-social behaviour is used as a catch all term for a wide range of behaviours but there is clearly a difference between being a nuisance and inconsiderate and engaging in criminal activity.
“My Department is currently working on information for the public on the issue of anti-social behaviour and who to contact for help in various situations.”