Covid lockdown blamed for surge in ASBOs handed out in West Lothian
The frustrations of the pandemic lockdown have shown themselves in a county wide surge in the reports of anti-social behaviour by tenants to West Lothian Council
Bathgate and the Breich Valley topped the list of open cases with, for the last three months of 2020 up by 100 per cent in the Breich Valley ward and almost 7 per cent in Bathgate. In Whitburn the figure was up 20 per cent up on 2019 and in North Livingston 50 per cent.
But the real story behind the surge is the level of complaints about everyday noise which has only become an issue because of the lockdown with police regularly being called.
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The Safer Neighbourhood teams had 221 more open cases for the third quarter of 2020 than for the same period in 2019. Officers also kept cases open for longer .
Alison Smith, Housing Management & Community Safety Manager told a meeting of the Services for the Community PDSP: “We are seeing a higher instance of people who are feeling more vulnerable. The majority of anti-social behaviour complaints are about noise.
“SNT has seen tolerance levels decreasing through people not having the same freedom of movement.”
Daily living noises such as people doing DIY or fitness, cooking smells, the noise of washing machines all generated complaints to the council. “These are lower level level things that would not otherwise have been an issue,” added Mrs Smith.
She added that SNT officers triage complaints and where there are serious issues they are taken forward to include police, especially at repeat offender addresses or where there are drugs involved.
There are currently 11 ASBOs place and eight cases being dealt with by the council’s legal department.
A report to committee said: “There is no definitive reason for the level of numbers being reported from ward to ward and demographic variations and house type can all contribute to the way in which behaviour from others is tolerated or becomes intolerable to others. Investigations normally involve conducting mediations, issuing warnings, referring individuals to victim support and working with partners in the Community Safety Unit and the local Housing teams.”
“We have seen unprecedented increase of anti-social behaviour across the board, and of what is perceived to be anti-social behaviour as people feel more vulnerable, said Mrs Smith.