Staff pressures hit West Lindsey battle against bad behaviour

West Lindsey HQ EMN-140310-082643001
West Lindsey HQ EMN-140310-082643001
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A lack of council staff will hamper West Lindsey District Council’s ability to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

A report for councillors meeting tomorrow notes the council has just two full-time staff, managed by a Community Action Officer, to deal with anti-social behaviour. This compares with six officers in East Lindsey, while at North Kesteven “the resource is 13.”

Last month, councils gained sweeping new powers from the government to tackle anti-social behaviour, environmental crime and other offences. The move saw a shift towards such offences being civil offences, rather than criminal, leading to a greater use of fixed penalty notices.

West Lindsey is one of only two councils to amend its constitution to give it such powers, and the only one to establish the use and cost of these fixed penalties.

“The new ASB legislation widens a number of tests used which enable us to take action. This may increase workloads and expectation. Publicity surrounding the new legislation is likely to increase workloads,” said the report prepared for the Policy & Resources Committee.

“Currently the ASB team is not able to deal with waste enforcement due to lack of capacity. Reports are being forwarded to the waste service team, however, this is far from ideal to address problems affecting communities.”

Case loads have risen to 50, “the highest level in over a year”, with a typical garden rubbish case taking a week, but some, leading to prosecution, can last months or years.

“This means an increase in workload and the legislation may be difficult to absorb in the current team.”

It suggests WLDC recruits two extra staff and uses e-forms to free up officer time from inputting. “Resource must be considered and reviewed on an on-going basis,” it added.

Simpler fixed penalties urged

West Lindsey presently has fixed penalty notices of £100 for failure to comply with a Litter Clearing Notice or Street Litter Clearing Notice. The penalty for graffiti, flyposting and failing to comply with a Dog Control order is £75, with a £25 discount if paid within 10 days. Officers are proposing £75 fixed penalty notices for these offences, with £25 off to encourage early payment.

“Fixed penalty notices are a valuable tool to our enforcement officers, enabling us to take clear action on an offence without a full court action, but also leaving the door open to court action if not paid. They are a good deterrent to others,” said the report.