In this week's "Ask Sandy", a reader challenges the council's new policy on tackling anti-social behaviour. How tough will it be and will it be inclusive in its execution?
Q: Can Sandy explain the measures now being taken by the council to tackle and prosecute anti-social behaviour and re-assure residents that council officers charged with enforcement, won't simply be focusing on "soft-targets." Will the council be able to provide the level of personal security that its enforcement personnel will need in dealing with the more unpleasant and aggressive members of our community?
A: "Let’s be clear here – the new enforcement policy that the Council has agreed is not about hitting so called “soft targets”. Everyone will be treated in an appropriate way. We know that we need to concentrate on those who continually litter our streets, as that’s what we intend to do.
But before we get there, the first thing we want to do is make people aware that there are new, increased penalties for dropping litter. We’ve done this, because that’s what people told us they wanted. They thought the highest possible fines should be imposed, but they made the point that it’s important that people know about these fines and the action that could be taken against them.
That’s the stage we’re at right now – making sure that people know that the Council will be soon be getting tough on this issue. Dropping litter is unacceptable. Residents have told us that they want clean streets – that’s their top priority. That’s why we brought the street cleaning and waste and recycling collection back in house at the beginning of April, so we could provide an improved service, but everyone needs to play their part by not littering the streets to begin with.
As far as providing personal security for our enforcement officers goes, the safety of all our staff is our foremost concern and we will not tolerate any attacks, be they physical or verbal, on any member of Council staff. The last thing we want is to put any of our officers into dangerous situations. That’s why we’ll be carrying out risk assessments before this enforcement action starts and we’ll be training all the officers who’ll be handing out Fixed Penalty Notices, so that they understand how to deal with unpleasant and aggressive situations."