Surge in Norwich anti-social behaviour complaints

The number of complaints about families in Norwich behaving badly has increased by 15pc over the past year, new figures have revealed.

Norwich City Council received 4,946 complaints about anti-social behaviour in 2011/12, up by more than 650 on the previous year, when there were 4,290.

Council leaders said part of the reason for the increase was because people are under increased pressure in tough economic times, but also that they were more confident that reporting problems would lead to action by the authority.

The most common types of complaints were noise, nuisance behaviour (such as climbing on buildings and ball games in restricted areas) and harassment.

The council said the majority of the cases were resolved early on by wardens and neighbourhood officers, but 63 of the cases had been tackled by the council's ABATE (antisocial behaviour and tenancy enforcement) team.

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The team works with the police and other agencies to address antisocial behaviour in Norwich, using a string of powers to tackle problems, including anti social behaviour injunctions, acceptable behaviour contracts, parental control orders and possession action to evict council house tenants.

The officers collate and prepares evidence, attend court as a representative of Norwich City Council housing service and support to victims and witnesses in cases of serious antisocial behaviour.

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Victoria MacDonald, cabinet member for housing at Norwich City Council, said the team had helped situations from spiralling out of control.

She said: 'The ABATE team do exceptional work. In the times we are in, you would expect the number of complaints to increase because people are under more pressure, but I think it is also because people are more confident that their problems will be dealt with.

'The team has been incredibly successful in working with families and with partner organisations, such as the police.

'There is no point just constantly moving these people on, because that does not solve the problem, so our approach is about getting to the root of the problem.'

The council also has a Families Unit, which supports some of the city's most troubled and vulnerable families.

Last year, 97 families received support from the unit and 77pc of cases were closed without any enforcement action.

The type of issues the Families Unit helps with include struggles with debt, parenting, budgeting, school attendance and tenancies being at risk - for example, through arrears or debt.

The previous years saw 64 families get support, with 75pc of cases closed with no enforcement action being necessary.

Mrs MacDonald said: 'It's real joined-up thinking with other partners such as the police and the NHS to find solutions for problems.'

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