Noisy neighbours the main problem

THE Northern Ireland Housing Executive dealt with 67 cases of anti-social behaviour in the Coleraine District, figures reveal.

Of these, 64 related to low level activities. There were no repossessions in the District.

The Housing Executive figures showed that it dealt with 4,667 cases of anti-social behaviour across Northern Ireland. 87% of these reports related to minor incidents of anti-social behaviour which were speedily resolved without recourse to legal action.

The problem of excessive noise however remains the biggest issue for complainants, with over 1,405 reports relating to noisy neighbours, noisy parties and clash of lifestyle noise, etc.

The Housing Executive has developed a range of early interventions to combat this, including the use of warning letters, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and referrals to its mediation service.

A spokesperson said that while it was accepted that many reports are termed minor, they still cause misery and anxiety for local residents who wish to live peacefully in their own homes.

In circumstances where the anti-social behaviour is serious and early interventions have failed to stop the unacceptable behaviour, the Housing Executive has a range of legal powers at its disposal, including the use of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), injunctions and repossession orders.

In exercising these powers a total of 62 properties were repossessed last year. This represents an approximate increase of 14% over the previous 12 months when 54 properties were repossessed.

Acting Chief Executive Stewart Cuddy said, “Anti social behaviour remains a key issue of concern amongst our tenants. This year our district offices have taken a proportionate and incremental approach and it is significant that we have used our legal powers only as a last resort.

“Having said that, we are not complacent about the impact such behaviour can have on communities and we will continue to deal with those who engage in it. The increase in repossessions this year is indicative of our commitment to protect communities from this scourge.

“At a local district office level we continue to work closely with communities to ensure that ASB does not take hold. We have made significant progress this year in identifying and dealing with individuals who have been involved in unacceptable behaviour and this will continue.

“However, to be truly effective in challenging ASB we need people to come forward and report incidents as and when they occur. Unless we know about such incidents, we cannot tackle them, so I would ask anyone who has experienced or witnessed ASB to come forward and report it to their local district office.”

Mr. Cuddy concluded:“The problems created by ASB are not always easy to resolve. Individual victims are often fearful of coming forward and this is understandable. However it is vital that we have the support and evidence provided by local people, because, without it, the job becomes even more difficult.”