ASB Report - February 2018



Anti-social Behaviour

in St Katharine & Wapping

Issued by:

The St Katharine & Wapping Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel

February 2018

Acknowledgments:

Input from Ward residents formed the core of this study, and this study in its turn exists to give those residents a voice. We would also like to express our gratitude for the help and cooperation provided by the Friends of St Katharine Docks (FOSKD) for their assistance in broadening the scope of our appeal for intelligence. It has allowed us to form a clearer picture of what’s been happening within the Ward in order to represent the views of residents accurately.

The St Katharine & Wapping Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel ASB subgroup

February 2018

Foreword:

This report would not exist without the help and support of residents of St Katharine & Wapping. When the Panel sent out a call for resident views on Anti-social Behaviour (ASB) under the title “Have Your Say”, it had a tight, six-day deadline. The response was unexpectedly forthright and vocal. At the end of the first day it had become clear that residents felt their quality of life in the Ward was being eroded by generalised ASB, vagrancy, and graffiti.

The survey at the heart of this report was carried out in December 2017 following a request from the Police for a Community Impact Statement. The survey ran from 11 – 17 December 2017. In some cases individual residents expressed their concerns verbally in conversation with Ward panel members. The enormous sense of frustration and despair that came through in comments, even just from the results on day one, revealed the depth and seriousness of ASB developing in St Katharine and Wapping. Five more days of data proved the results on day one were no fluke; they were typical.

The survey drew many more responses from residents across the Ward than had been expected. The largely uniform nature of the opinions expressed in them made it clear the results of the survey needed distribution to a wider audience than the Community Impact Statement alone. This report seeks to highlight where ASB is occurring, and what options exist already for dealing with it.

The results presented to the Police as a Community Impact Statement are being reproduced here in a modified form. Its purpose is to alert a wider audience to what residents are experiencing.

What the survey tells us:

There is a rising tide of anger and frustration among residents of this Ward regarding the escalation of Anti-social-Behaviour (ASB) within St Katharine and Wapping. Much of this behaviour has been attributed by residents to alcohol, drugs, and nitrous oxide abuse by young males, along with difficulties residents face in attempting to report it.

From plotting instances of ASB reported during the survey, it has become clear that the Thames River Path, and any open spaces on the river bank (including stairs down to low-tide beaches), are magnets for ASB. Hermitage Memorial Gardens is a particular hotspot where many types of offences are being perpetrated routinely. These areas are being used as informal clubhouses where the “members” litter, urinate, defecate, deal in and take drugs, have public sex, play very loud music at all hours, inhale nitrous oxide, and throw stones or other objects at resident flats and barges. They also use the streets of Wapping for reckless, high-speed driving.

Residents report that in some cases this behaviour is affecting their lives so badly, they are seeking to leave the borough in order to find a better place in which to live. There is a reported perception this problem increased at the same time there was a substantial reduction in police numbers in the borough.

Reporting:

Where residents commented directly on the perceived response to their calls about ASB, there were on the whole high levels of dissatisfaction and frustration expressed. This was based on criteria such as:

  • Length of time it takes to log an incident via 101 (often 40 min or more).
  • No perceived action taken against recurring anti-social behaviour.
  • Length of time elapsed before anyone attends after a call has been logged.

A recurring message that came through from resident comments submitted during the course of the survey was “I’ve reported this behaviour again and again. Nothing is ever done to stop it.” Another recurring message is “I’ve stopped trying to report it. I’m tired of being kept on-hold for forty five minutes, only to be told then it may be an hour or more before anyone attends. Sometimes nobody attends. What’s the point?”

Table:

Anti-Social Behaviours ranked by the number of times cited directly by residents during the survey:

Drugs (dealers & users, and discarded needles)

Nitrous Oxide use

Intimidating/threatening/abusive behaviour by groups of youths

Nitrous Oxide canister litter

Loitering by groups of youths

Alcohol abuse

Youth rowdiness, especially at night

High speed/reckless driving/breach of 7.5 tonne limit

Littering & broken glass

Public urination/defecation

Loud music

Graffiti/gang-related graffiti

Vagrants/rough sleepers

Trespass

Criminal damage/vandalism

Gangs

Throwing stones/objects at windows

Break-ins

Traffic, littering, and drug-dealing during Tobacco Dock events

Cyclists using pavements

Excessive noise on leaving bars/restaurants

Riding mopeds on walkways & in parks

Enormous noisy gatherings on Brussels Wharf & pontoon in summer

Travellers/Gypsies in Pennington St/racing horses along The Highway

Fireworks fired at residences

Staining of concrete/private residences by spilt drink and mess

Dog fouling

Prostitution

Illegal parking

Illegal/dangerous swimming resulting in deaths

Aggressive begging

On-street theft

Alleged use of Pizza moped riders to deliver drugs

Fighting

Intruder alarms

Attempted use of stolen credit cards in a shop

Noise from emergency vehicle sirens and large vehicles reversing

Public sex

Table:

Anti-Social Behaviour “hotspots” ranked in order (1st place = most number of reports by residents).

Note: in some cases there is little numeric difference between positions 3 - 8 in terms of reported problems. Those rankings could vary on a day-to-day basis. 

  1. Hermitage Memorial Park.
  1. Shadwell Basin.
  1. St John’s Churchyard, Scandrett Street (not locked at night - against Police advice - due to “cost”).
  1. Riverfront by Atlantic Wharf .
  1. “Green” spaces along Wapping High St other than Hermitage Memorial Park.
  1. Wapping Wood.
  1. All Thames Path and riverfront steps/walkways from Tower Bridge Wharf along to the west end of Narrow Street.
  1. Tobacco Dock and surrounding area during events.
  1. Aggressive beggars at petrol stations along The Highway.

 

Map of ASB hotpots and paths as reported by residents:


 

  • Yellow markers = paths or static locations of ASB by groups on foot. Absence of a yellow marker does not necessarily mean absence of ASB – it only means there were no reports of any ASB in those locations during the course of this study.


  • Green lines = streets where reckless driving or other vehicle-related offences (e.g. circling for drug-dealing) were reported during the survey.


The three SNT Ward priorities:

The Panel received written and verbal submissions to the “Have Your Say” survey covering all three priorities in the Ward in some detail. These priorities are:

Drugs

Dangerous Driving

General Anti-social Behaviour

RESIDENTS’ RESPONSES TO “HAVE YOUR SAY”

1) Drugs priority

  • Reports of drug dealing in Knighten Street. This small road is not covered by any cameras. The deal goes down on the move. One car drives in from Wapping High Street the other from Vaughan Way. As they pass windows open and the exchange takes place. Also reported were cars dealing drugs along the back road of the John Orwell Park.
  • Groups of youths hanging around Shadwell basin using the walls as a toilet drinking, taking drugs/N.O.  playing music in the memorial park taking dugs/N.O.
  • St. Johns park has become a hangout for drinkers and drug users especially on a Saturday evening, if this park was locked overnight it would instantly stop this.
  • Stones and objects have been thrown at my houseboat and drug dealing and taking is taking place through the night.  Nearly every night during the summer spring, summer and autumn.

2) Dangerous Driving priority

  • Cars being driven like Formula 1 cars - no regard for other cars or people on the streets (if in the daytime)  A lot more wary about personal safety walking in Wapping
  • In Wapping Lane and Wapping High street - speeding down one and screeching round the corner into the other – usually evening or early hours. Effect – dangerous to vehicle occupants, innocent passers-by, and potentially damaging to our community surroundings.
  • I am fearful that someone will get hurt - perhaps  one of my friends/family or me.   Walking in Wapping is no longer the pleasure that it used to be. 
  • There is a particular problem with the large tipper trucks. They are always empty and bear no company markings. They are often travelling over the speed limit and take no notice of the speed humps. They fly over these and land with a tremendous bang. They must damage the road surface.

3) Anti-social Behaviour priority

  • Witnessed a significant spike in anti social behaviour between the end of 2016 and 2017. This was particularly related to young males of Asian ethnicity consuming and littering canisters from cars, those same groups playing loud music at nights and cars racing at nights.
  • Screaming and shouting and rowdy behaviour all through the night - particularly in the summer. Stones and objects have been thrown at my houseboat and drug dealing and taking is taking place through the night.
  • Cars parked in the road have been damaged as often groups arrive in cars and use and deal in drugs. Every day large piles of litter are collected, just dropped by those sitting in the cars. The noise is the worst, and affects not only the moorings but the flats overlooking the park.
  • We get groups of male youths congregating and drinking by the bench in the park [St John’s Churchyard – left unlocked at night]. They meet early evening and stay until about 1.30 - 2 am. They shout, swear and urinate right in front of the windows where my 3 children (aged 9 and twins of 5 sleep). I am considering moving from the area as a result which is a shame as we have loved the area and are integrated into the community and the children are at local schools but I can’t expose them to that behaviour yards from their window.
  • Damage to both my and my husband’s cars. Frequently woken/ kept awake at night. No action taken - feel unsafe and vulnerable. WE HAVE REPORTED THIS  FREQUENTLY. WE HAVE SENT VIDEO EVIDENCE. NOTHING IS EVER DONE.

Appendix A:

Options available for taking action against ASB.

There are a number of options for dealing with ASB. Most of them are not publicised or used widely.

A primary action residents should consider when ASB is long-term and on-going, is to activate what is known as “The Community Trigger”. If a resident (or a group of residents in the same area) suffering from ASB find they are not satisfied with the response to their reports of ASB, they can use the Community Trigger to force a case review. It can be made when there have been at least three reports of ASB within a period of six months, and residents are not satisfied with the outcome.

This review will be multi-agency (Police; Local Authority; Housing Association, etc.). It is an attempt to stop the ASB, rather than just examine the way in which a single agency responded to it.

The website asbhelp.co.uk comments that “The Community Trigger has the potential to make a difference. The multi-agency case review can make recommendations where they see a particular agency has failed in addressing the anti-social behaviour properly. It can lead to a different and more effective approach to a problem. It is your legal right. Don’t suffer in silence.”

Tower Hamlets have a web form for residents to activate the Community Trigger (along with some general guidance notes) at the following URL:

https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/community_and_living/community_safety__crime_preve/anti-social_behaviour/asb_community_trigger.aspx

Existing powers to deal with ASB in public and open spaces include:

  • Community Protection Notice (applies to persons aged 16 or over).

      Used for dealing with persistent littering and accumulations of waste. On breach it allows the council       to undertake works to clear the nuisance “on nay land open to the air” including private gardens               without the owner’s consent. Accumulations of litter and rubbish can also be dealt with as a statutory       nuisance where the behaviour is prejudicial to health or constitutes a nuisance.

  • Dispersal Power (good for up to 48 hours) can be used in any public place and in common areas of private land with the landowner or occupier’s consent. Allows police to deal with ASB instantly. Can be given to anyone aged 10 or over. (Ref: Home Office Fact Sheet “Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill” Fact sheet: Dispersal powers (part 3).
  • Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO). Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) “Where groups regularly congregate in a park to consume alcohol, resulting in their behaviour having a detrimental effect on the area, the council can make a PSPO prohibiting the consumption of alcohol, either at all times or during specific times when the problem is likely to occur.” Public spaces can be designated as “no drinking zones” with the prohibition tailored to specific times of day (e.g. after 18:00) (Ref: Home Office – Reform of anti-social behaviour powers – Drunken behaviour in public places).
  • Injunction to Prevent Nuisance or Annoyance (IPNA). Used when alcohol dependency is an issue. It allows the court to attach a requirement to the IPNA to try to assist the individual in changing their behaviour. (Ref: Home Office - Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill – Fact sheet: Replacing ASBO – parts 1 & 2)
  • Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO). This replaces the ASBO and DBO on conviction, and has more stringent requirements. Breach of a CBO is a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years, a fine, or both. Can be used in circumstances where drunken people target residences by throwing stones, breaking windows etc. and can be shown to have caused criminal damage, and harassed and intimidated people in the neighbourhood for a sustained period. (Ref: Home Office - Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill – Fact sheet: Replacing ASBO – parts 1 & 2)

       “The Anti-social behaviour Order (ASBO) isn’t working: breach rates are high and the number                   issued has been declining since 2005. The two new powers to replace ASBO (IPNA and CBO) will           be faster and more effective.” (Ref: Home Office -  Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing              Bill – Fact sheet: Replacing ASBO – parts 1 & 2)

  • Bye-laws.
  • General:

The police can take action about any anti-social behaviour which is a criminal offence and can prosecute someone who has:

  • attacked another person, causing physical and/or psychological damage
  • wilfully damaged someone else’s property
  • behaved in a threatening or abusive way in order to intimidate or frighten or cause harassment, alarm or distress intentionally, for example, by stalking you or writing anti-gay slogans on the wall outside your home
  • incited racial hatred or violence by, for example, distributing racist leaflets.

In England and Wales, the police can also get a court order to close down premises which are causing disruption to residents because of some serious disorder or nuisance problem. You should bear in mind that the police have discretion whether or not to prosecute someone.

The police can issue on the spot fines (penalty notices) for some types of anti-social behaviour. In England and Wales, they can also apply to court for an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance, or an order to stop gang violence or protect someone against gang violence.

The police must take very seriously complaints about anti-social behaviour which is discriminating against you. If you think they haven’t taken your complaint seriously enough, or if you think the police are discriminating against you, you may want to make a complaint about the police.

For more information about how to make a complaint about the police, see Complaints in: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-rights/legal-system/police/police-powers/

WHAT COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICERS CAN DO (ENGLAND AND WALES ONLY)

In England and Wales, community support officers can take action about anti-social behaviour in certain circumstances. For example:

  • they can order people to stop cycling on the pavement
  • disperse groups of young people who are gathering in a public place
  • take children home after 9pm
  • deal with young people truanting from school, including taking them back to school
  • issue on the spot fines.

WHAT THE LOCAL AUTHORITY CAN DO

As a person who is suffering anti-social behaviour you can ask the local authority to deal with it, regardless of whether you are a local authority tenant or not. The local authority can:

  • apply to a court for an order or injunction to stop or prevent someone’s anti-social behaviour in its area
  • in England and Wales, apply to the court for an order to stop gang violence or to protect someone from gang violence
  • in England and Wales, apply to court for an order to close premises where there is ongoing disorder or nuisance
  • take action to stop noise, nuisance and threats to health
  • take action to evict the person responsible for the behaviour, if they are a local authority tenant
  • offer the victim alternative accommodation
  • prosecute where the behaviour is a criminal offence
  • in England and Wales, take over management of a property where there are particularly serious anti-social behaviour problems.

If you want to ask the local authority to take action about anti-social behaviour, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau. (Ref: Logic – Street & Park Furniture blog “How to stop/tackle anti-social behaviour” – 31 March 2016).

Appendix B

Active reporting of ASB:

A consistent and standardised approach to the reporting of ASB will help to make the scale of the problem evident to Police. It will also provide residents with a coherent record of what they have reported, and when precisely they reported it. This is especially helpful when preparing to invoke the “Community Trigger.” A draft form with guidance notes is being included below to help residents structure their ASB reports. The more reports are called in to the Police, the more it will fulfil their demand for “data” on the problem.

The general guidance notes and form itself follow on the next page.

ASB checklist guidance notes (ver 1.0)

Endeavour to make notes in all of these categories before contacting the police so it isn’t necessary to try to remember the details while being questioned on the phone.

“What the ASB involves”

  • This needs to be as specific as possible – e.g. “Drinking, shouting, open urinating, nitrous oxide abuse”.

“When” 

  • If the behaviour is still taking place, the answer to that question is obviously “now.”
  • If the behaviour has ceased because it was not possible to report it at the time (say due to delays in getting through via 101), give as accurate a time and date as possible.

“How long the disturbance has been happening”

  • Self-explanatory.

“Where”

  • As accurate a street address as possible.

“How many persons are/were present”

  • If it’s hard to be specific, be approximate.

“Description of persons involved”

  • Approximate age, sex, ethnicity, dress.