For the Government’s new Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan to be as successful as possible, new Housing Courts are needed to ensure that action can be taken quickly, argues a new cross-party parliamentary report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Anti-Social Behaviour.
Convened and sponsored by one of the country’s largest providers of affordable homes, Midland Heart, and chaired by Shaun Bailey MP, the group is made up of MPs from all three main parties in England, and supported by Resolve, ASB Help, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, TPAS, Local Government Association, and other interested groups.
The report calls for the Government to pilot the use of a Housing Court in the West Midlands, as a means of providing faster redress and relief for victims of ASB and swifter intervention to change the behaviour of perpetrators. The notion of a housing court was previously consulted on by the Government in 2017 and was popular with housing associations and their tenants.
As it stands, victims of ASB can expect to wait several months, and in many cases up to a year, before securing a court date, and once in court, the case must compete for a judge’s time with other civil work that does not fall into any other specialist or priority areas. All the while, the victim is often still experiencing anti-social behaviour and living in close proximity to the perpetrators they have had the bravery to report.
The response to the report has been encouraging, with both the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster and West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, joining calls in a local campaign for the introduction of a housing courts pilot.
Calls for the pilot are now being heard in Westminster, with Midland Heart Chief Executive Glenn Harris invited to address DHLUC ministers and senior civil servants, as part of the parliamentary launch of the UK’s annual Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week led by Resolve ASB. The event was also attended by Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
Mr Harris spoke to the Home Secretary and other parliamentary members about the need for additional powers to be given to Landlords, and how the introduction of a housing court might address the issue of ASB cases being held up for several months under the current civil justice system.
Glenn Harris, Chief Executive of Midland Heart, who convened the APPG on anti-social behaviour said:
“Everyone should feel safe in their home but far too many people can’t due to the actions of a mindless few. Our tenants have told us that they want more to be done to stop ASB in their neighbourhoods and that those responsible need to be held account quicker, some of our tenants who have bravely stood up to those making others’ lives a misery have had to live with the problem, often worsening, for a year before the issue can be heard by a court.
“That is why Midland Heart formed the APPG and asked parliamentarians, police and crime commissioners, the Mayor and charities such as Resolve and ASBHelp to help us come up with ways to make our communities even safer. We believe that a housing court is a great first step to providing swifter justice for victims of ASB, and ensuring rent arrears, possession cases and other relevant issues are dealt with by judges who have undergone specialist training on housing issues and understand the complexity of law in this area.”
The APPG on ASB first inquiry report and recommendations can be found here.
About the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Social Behaviour
The All-Party Parliamentary Group, convened by Midland Heart, provides a forum for parliamentarians, landlords and other stakeholders to discuss anti-social behaviour and how landlords, local authorities, the police and others can effectively respond to it.
The group was launched in 2022 and focuses on anti-social behaviour (ASB), and organisational and community responses to it. The aim of the group is to improve the ways that we respond to ASB to improve the lives of tenants and others in the communities affected. More information can be found in the APPG brochure.