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Community and living, Environment, Finance and money, Fraud and prosecutions, Planning

Lambeth council – tough on anti-social behaviour

Lambeth council issued almost a thousand fixed penalty notices in 2014 and more than half were for littering. Other offences tackled by the council included illegal street trading, spitting, breaches of regulations for skips and obstructing the highway.

More than a million pounds’ worth of housing benefit and tenancy fraud was tracked down and the council’s Fraud and Legal teams secured convictions, fines and jail sentences under a new law aimed at tackling tenancy fraud.

There was a 15% reduction in rough sleeping in the borough but a huge increase in reports of begging and vagrancy in 2014 – up by 500 to 548 and the council issued the first Criminal Behaviour order against a persistent beggar.

Between April and December 2014, council, police and border agency officers dealt with offences that resulted in 32 arrests, over 150 warnings, 16 Good Neighbour agreements, 14 Acceptable Behaviour contracts, six ASBO or Criminal Behaviour Orders and 14 people who had an average of 11 recorded crimes were removed to other EU countries.

Council Planning Enforcement officers tackled a wide range of problems from ‘beds in sheds’, unauthorised house conversions and extensions, houses being used for multiple occupancy and unauthorised shop fronts to the wrong type of windows and intrusive advertising hoardings. In one case, the defendants were not only fined £26,000 and ordered to pay the council’s £7,000 costs, but under the Proceeds of Crime Act, were also ordered to pay back the money they had made breaching the terms of the notice (over £143,000) of which 37.5% comes back to the council to be used for future planning enforcement activity.

Building Control officers tackled a wide range of problems associated with unauthorised house conversions, extensions and structural alterations as well as houses being used for multiple occupancy. They also dealt with the installation of windows, boilers and undertaking electrical works without consent, some of which are being pursued through enforcement action.

Council Environmental Health officers continue to ensure that houses in multiple occupation (HMO) are licensed in line with legislation and that private sector dwellings comply with statutory standards. In total, 92 HMO licences were issued and 243 properties were brought up to Housing Act standard in 2014. The Rogue Landlords Project, which is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is tackling the poorest practice in the private rented sector. It has succeeded in prohibiting the use of seven properties.

Cllr. Imogen Walker, Deputy Leader said: “These figures are just a snapshot of the sort of problems council officers deal with on a daily basis, keeping Lambeth safe, clean and pleasant for everyone. We will continue to be tough on people that don’t play by the rules, whether that’s a quiet word or pursuing people through the courts. Anti-social behaviour, in all its forms from littering to aggressive begging, noise and unlawful house conversions has an impact on the quality of life of local people.”

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