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Community Safety Service

Enforcement Policy

Introduction

Hampshire County Council will strive to ensure that

Through patrols across the county, using liveried vans, and by foot, and by the direct intervention by the Community Safety Service, it will build safer communities by positively dealing with anti-social behaviour envirocrime issues such as litter, fly-tipping and graffiti.

  • The Council will maintain a visible presence across the county at times when residents are fearful of anti-social behaviour, and by this presence, with discourage any anti-social behaviour, or together such evidence of anti-social behaviour as it is seen to occur.

  • Enforcement action, by the use of fixed penalty notices but including prosecution where appropriate, will be taken against those who deliberately or recklessly contravene the law.

  • Assistance and advice is available to help residents, businesses and others meet their legal obligations, or in helping these to combat anti-social behaviour.

  • Legislation is enforced in a skilled, professional, fair, and open way.

Good Enforcement Practice

The Council has adopted the Cabinet Office’s “Enforcement Concordat” which offers best practice guidance and promotes good standards of enforcement.

In addition, all officers will consider and follow the Code of Practice for Crown Prosecutors, issued by the Crown prosecution Service, when taking decisions on whether to prosecute.

Human Rights Act 1998

In deciding to institute enforcement action, particularly prosecution, officers will consider the rights and freedoms given to individuals under the Human Rights Act 1998, in particular taking account of Article 6, the right to a fair trial and Article 8 the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.

Equal Opportunities

All officers undertaking enforcement duties will ensure that all recipients of the service receive fair and equitable treatment irrespective of their race, ethnicity, gender or disability.

Commitment to the Policy

The Council is committed to ensuring that all authorised enforcement officers carrying out enforcement work are trained and fully acquainted with the requirements of this policy. All authorised officers must abide by this policy whenever making decisions on enforcement. Any departure from this policy will be exceptional, documented, justified and approved by the relevant service manager or Head of Service unless the delay in decision-making would result in a significant risk to the public.

All authorised enforcement officers should be fully trained and authorised in those aspects of legislation relevant to their duties. The authority will ensure that officers are fully competent to carry out their duties and that the level of delegated authority for each officer has been approved.

 

Enforcement principles

In enforcing any law, Hampshire County Council recognises and affirms the importance of the following principles:

a: Standards

We believe that prevention is better than cure and that our role therefore involves actively working with resident associations, community groups and business, to advise and assist with understanding the law.

We will provide a courteous and efficient service and our staff will identify themselves by name. We will provide a contact point and telephone number for further dealings with us and we will encourage recipients to seek advice/information from us, or a solicitor. We will ensure, wherever practicable, our enforcement services are effectively co-ordinated to minimise unnecessary overlaps and time delays.

We will provide information and advice in plain language on the rules that we enforce. We will be open about how we set about our work, and we will discuss general issues.

We will publish our level of service and the performance we achieve.

b: Consistency

We will carry out our duties in a fair, equitable and consistent manner. Whilst officers necessarily exercise judgement in individual cases, we will have arrangements in place to promote consistency, including liaison with other authorities and enforcement bodies.

Targeting

In addition to the regular patrols, we will target “special patrols” at those activities and areas that give rise to the most complaints. This will be achieved where possible through the use of a risk-rating scheme to enable complaints to be ‘scored’ following any patrol.

c: Transparency

We will help individuals, groups and businesses to understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the enforcement officer. We will distinguish between statutory requirements and what is desirable but not compulsory.

d: Accountability

We will recognise our accountability to the public.

We will adopt a complaints procedure that is accessible to business, the public, employees, and consumer groups. In cases where disputes cannot be resolved, any right of complaint or appeal will be explained, with details of the process and the likely time-scales involved.

 

Enforcement options

Yellow Card Policy

The Yellow Card Policy is in line with the enforcement policy for the Community Safety Service. The Yellow Card Scheme is designed to tackle low level crime and anti-social behaviour for the age range 14 –18, although the Yellow card can be issued as warning to 18 and above.

The Yellow Card can be issued to an individual who in the officers view is acting in a manner which is not acceptable and it may be felt that the parents of the individual should be notified. The main types of anti-social behaviour listed are:

  • Using obscene or foul language in the street

  • Alcohol, tobacco, drug, solvent misuse

  • Throwing litter

  • Riding a bicycle on a footway

  • Using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour

  • Engaging in threatening or intimidating behaviour in large groups

When officers decide to issue a yellow card to an individual they must place on the warning part what the person has been warned for. Once a person is issued with a yellow card, the top copy is given to the Team Leaders and the yellow copy is given to the person at the time of it being completed by the officer.

The person’s details are entered onto the Community Safety Service Yellow Card database and an active status is placed on the entry. A letter is sent to the person’s parents informing them what has happened and acts as a first warning

A person placed onto the database at active status will remain on the database for six months, if there are no further issue of yellow cards then status changes to close and that person is taken off the database in line with the Data protection principles.

A person who receives a second yellow card within six months will receive a second letter, explaining that a copy of the letter will be sent to a number of agencies, these agencies may include specific agencies that maybe able to offer support and mentoring, as an example a young person who is constantly underage drinking, a letter maybe sent to the Drugs, Alcohol Action Team. All second letters will be sent to the Youth Offending Team and the Local Police station. This letter highlights to the parents that the young person involved is now moving towards a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to be issued.

If a third Yellow card is issued, a number of options can be explored. This may include setting up a case conference with the relevant agencies to look at the best way to address the behaviour of the individual concerned or the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice sent to the parents of the young person which is viewed as the last resort.

Hampshire County Council recognises and affirms the importance of achieving the maintaining consistency in its approach to making decisions that concern standards of enforcement action.

In making a decision the officers will consider :

  • the seriousness of the offence

  • any explanation offered by the defendant

  • the age of the defendant

  • the previous relevant history, if any

  • the likelihood of the defendant being able to establish a defence

  • the ability of any important witnesses and their willingness to co-operate

  • whether other action such as the issue of a fixed penalty notice would be more appropriate or effective

  • the advice contained in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Having considered all relevant information and evidence, one or more of the following choices for action are available to officers:

  • no action

  • informal action

  • formal action which may include

  • fixed penalty notice

  • formal caution

  • prosecution.

a: No Action

Where an investigation reveals that, at the time of the patrol or visit, that no offence has occurred, or an offence has occurred but no offender can be identified.

b: Informal Action

Informal action to facilitate compliance with legislation includes the offering of advice and recommendations for action, either verbally or by letter.

Informal action may be appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • the offence committed was by a genuine mistake or accident

  • the details of offence were witnessed by a person who wishes to remain anonymous and is not prepared to give a witness statement

  • where the offence has been committed by a child or young person (although in certain cases such as repeated offences it may be appropriate to consider formal action)

where the offender has been or is genuinely impeded from preventing commission of the offence e.g. a wheelchair user unable to reach and clear up litter.

Even where some of the above criteria are not met, there may be circumstances in which informal action will be more effective than the formal approach. In these instances the enforcement officer will use his or her discretion but will be called upon to justify the exercise of that discretion.

When an informal approach is used, officers will ensure that any written documentation provided must:

  • contain all information necessary to identify the breach of legislation

  • indicate specific legislation contravened

  • clearly indicate any recommendations of good practice and to explain that they are not legal requirements.

Officer should always make clear, even when giving verbal advice, what are legal requirements as opposed to recommendations of good practice.

As far is possible, advice and information should be in plain language and be free from jargon.

c: Formal Action

Authorised officers will consider the use of formal action in accordance with the relevant services quality system or working procedures, Codes of Practice and guidance.

Where appropriate, owners and/or head offices will be advised of the action and its outcome.

d: Fixed Penalty Notice

Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s) may only be served by authorised accredited Community Safety Officers who are deemed to be competent, suitably qualified and experienced.

The following circumstances are likely to warrant to use of an FPN:

  • Officer has witnessed the offence.

  • Officer believes there are “reasonable grounds” to consider an offence has been committed.

  • There is a suitable witness or witnesses to the offence and the offender can be clearly identified.

The alleged offender has not received a FPN before, or has previously received no more than two FPN in the previous twelve months.

e: Formal Cautions

Formal cautions may be considered as an alternative to prosecution in accordance with Home Office Circular 18/1994. The purpose of the formal caution is:-

  • To deal quickly and simply with less serious offences.

  • To divert less serious offence away from the Courts.

  • To reduce the chances of repeat offences.

To safeguard the defendants interests, the following conditions will need to be fulfilled before a formal caution is administered:

  • There must be evidence of the suspected offender’s guilt sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction.

  • The suspected offender must admit the offence.

  • The suspected offender must understand the significance of a formal caution and give informed consent to being cautioned.

If there is insufficient evidence to consider taking a prosecution, then by implication, the conditions are not satisfied for the use of a formal caution. It will also be inappropriate to use a formal caution where the suspected offender does not make a clear and reliable admission of the offence. It should be noted that there is no legal obligation for any person to accept the offer of a formal caution and no pressure should be applied to the person to accept a caution.

Formal cautions will only be used in accordance with the Home Office Circular and relevant guidance.

Failure to accept a caution will normally result in prosecution for the offence.

The Senior Managers and Community Safety Manager are the officers duly authorised to issue formal cautions.

f: Prosecution

The authority recognises that most people and businesses wish to comply with the law and prosecution will be generally restricted to those who appear to blatantly disregard the law. The following circumstances are likely to warrant prosecution:

  • the offence involves a breach of the law and there is prima-facia evidence to support this

  • the alleged offender has refused to supply their details

  • the alleged offender has refused to accept a fixed penalty notice

  • a fixed penalty notice has not been paid after the expiry of 14 days after issue

  • there is a history of similar offences which have previously resulted in two fixed penalty notices being issued to the same offender over a period no longer than 12 months

An Officer of the Council has been assaulted or obstructed in carrying out their duties in respect of the offence.

Where circumstances have been identified which may warrant a prosecution, all relevant evidence and information will be considered, to enable a consistent, fair and objective decision to be made by the Service Manager.

 

Application of this policy

All officers will refer to this policy when making enforcement decisions. It must be read in conjunction with relevant approved guidance on enforcement action. Regard must also be given to any relevant internal procedures.

Any departure from this policy must be exceptional, capable of justification and be fully considered by the Service Manager before a final decision is taken. This proviso shall not apply where a risk of injury or to health is likely to occur due to a delay in any decision being made.

In cases of emergency or where exceptional conditions prevail, the Service Manager responsible for all the enforcement services applying this policy may suspend all or part of this policy where necessary to achieve effective running of the service and/or where there is a risk of injury or to public health of employees or member of the public.

Review

It is intended that this document will be subject to an annual review, and changes introduced to accommodate new legislation and local needs.

 

 

Comments

Comments are invited on this policy and should be sent to:

Paul Hayes
Community Safety Manager,
Montgomery House,
Monarch Way, Winchester SO22 5PW,

tel 01962 833694
email community.safety@hants.gov.uk

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