All together now?

The lights go up on the stage, the music starts pumping and the
audience ripples with excitement when a black-clad figure appears.
Is it Kylie, Justin or Beyonce? No, it’s Louise Casey, head of the
government’s antisocial behaviour unit.

The razzmatazz is courtesy of the Together Academy, the Home
Office’s attempt to get practitioners to share best practice on
stopping antisocial behaviour. This is why 300 people are packed
into a conference room at the Hilton Metropole hotel on London’s
Edgware Road on a cold March morning. Entrance is free and a
mixture of social services, housing, education, police, criminal
justice, voluntary sector and other local authority professionals
are seated at round tables.

Referring to both the government and practitioners, Casey says: “We
need to up our game on tackling, rather than tolerating, antisocial
behaviour.” Then Home Office minister Hazel Blears addresses the
audience and says she believes in a “twin-track approach” of tough
enforcement backed up with support.

The tackling nuisance neighbours workshop – a “fave rave” at
previous events, according to Casey – is led by Manchester
Council’s nuisance strategy team head Bill Pitt and Feizal Hajat,
Leicester Council’s principal legal officer. One delegate, who has
been involved in youth work for a long time, says his town favours
having CCTV on its high street rather than carrying out youth work.
“What about all those kids who are at risk from antisocial
behaviour? Where is the balance in Blair’s government?” he

Pitt gently rebuffs him by saying that while he understands the
concerns, the workshop is looking at establishing standards: “If
these standards are breached then there will be

Another delegate complains that her council’s legal department is
the “blockage in our system” when pursuing action against
antisocial residents. Hajat advises: “We want to empower you to go
back and challenge them and say ‘Why can’t you do this? This piece
of paper says that you can’.”

Nottingham Council city centre manager Jane Ellis and antisocial
behaviour unit deputy director Ian Brady run the workshop on
tackling an antisocial street scene. There is a lively debate
between delegates on what constitutes antisocial behaviour and
whether it includes busking badly.

A man from the Crown Prosecution Service says he thinks antisocial
behaviour orders that ban young people from specific places in
their borough will just push them into other areas of London. Ellis
says Nottingham hasn’t experienced this, and that recipients of
Asbos have accessed treatment programmes instead.

Attendees were obviously all committed to addressing the antisocial
behaviour that blights their communities, and many direct questions
were raised about the real problems on the ground. However, there
was a feeling that at times the hosts chose to gloss over the more
difficult, complex or awkward questions. 

– Four more days are planned. For more information telephone 08453

Views from the floor   

Roger Sharpe, independent consultant, Elixir
Consultancy, Kings Langley
“Antisocial behaviour orders are being used to try and control
increasing numbers of young people when we should be looking at
prevention strategies. It’s a grey area where Asbos are totally
appropriate and used in a society that demonises young

Val Ray, housing officer, Warden Housing Association,
“The main issue for us is the impact that antisocial behaviour has
on our tenants being able to live ordinary comfortable lives. Today
has been very useful, we’ve been able to discuss the issue and get

Harveil Toor, antisocial behaviour team leader, London
Borough of Redbridge  
“I want to make links with other professionals and look
at best practice and see what works and what doesn’t. There is a
real political and social commitment to dealing with antisocial
behaviour, the energy of the people here is good.”         

Helen Easton, policy and development officer, Nacro,
“A big part of what we do is around social exclusion. How do we
reconcile the work of the social exclusion unit and the antisocial
behaviour unit? We want social exclusion issues taken into account
because antisocial behaviour is triggered by

Alan Beazley, acting police sergeant, safer
neighbourhood team, London Borough of Richmond  
“I’ve found this very helpful although I didn’t think it
would be. I thought it would be a bit ‘bean-baggy’. I’ve met people
from the council and now it will be easier to talk to them and
implement ideas.”

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