Wigan's war on anti-social behaviour steps up

Plans to streamline the way Wigan Council deals with yobbery and get rid of the current “inefficient” service have been unveiled.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 10:31 am
Anti-social behaviour became so bad in Sandalwood Drive, Beech Hill, that part of it has been donated

The town hall is integrating its anti-social behaviour teams into one single “community resilience team” in an effort to reduce “confusion” for the public.

A report presented to the housing advisory panel, who met this week, calls the current approach “disjointed, fragmented and inefficient”.

In March 2019, a consultation took place with staff with a view to combining the anti-social behaviour prevention and intervention team, the safer communities team and the tenancy enforcement team into a single unit.

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Coun Lol Hunt

A report read given to the members of the housing committee this week points out problems with the current system, saying: “There is a lot of confusion for staff, partners, elected members and most importantly members of the public as to who deals with their complaint/issue.

“Arguably there are different levels of service dependent on the tenure you live in.

“As a complaint that initially starts with a prevention and intervention approach reaches the point where enforcement may be required, this is then passed to another officer/team.

“This ‘hand off’ simply adds to the frustration and confusion felt amongst residents as they must retell their tale and build a new relationship with a new officer.”

The council says that the proposal presents a new staffing structure which will “streamline, integrate and re-align” the fight against anti-social behaviour by making the “best use” of civil enforcement powers.

Following the consultation earlier this year, the town hall decided that it needs a social harm model to protect families and communities.

The document adds: “We need to cease ‘hand offs’ or referrals where customers must repeat stories by way of creating a transition period that is less time consuming and costly.”

A restructure has already taken place and staff have been recruited to start at the beginning of September. They will undergo a two-week “intensive” induction before receiving their full caseloads.

The details of the plan have emerged just as elected member Coun Lol Hunt spoke out about serious problems in the borough.

Coun Hunt said that parts of Wigan, including the town centre are “under siege” from rampant anti-social behaviour.

The Wigan Central representative has written directly to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins, saying that offenders are operating in a “near lawless society”.

In his letter he listed a catalogue of wrongdoings including drug-taking in broad daylight, residents threatened outside their homes, beggars behaving aggressively and people urinating in the street.

Coun Hunt’s concerns were backed by residents who are at the “end of their tether”. One mum described finding drug paraphernalia in a Scholes street and seeing someone injecting themselves outside of a church.

Video footage also shows people under the influence of an unknown substance, standing zombie-like in the street on Standishgate.