More than 400 cases of anti-social behavior were reported to Stirling Council in just over nine months last year.
Now victims are being asked to share their experiences of the nuisance and criminal behavior – described as a “blight on our communities” – as councilors vow to do more to tackle the problem.
Councilor Maureen Bennison, who will chair a new panel set up to look at the issues, previously said anti-social behavior was a “living nightmare” for some residents living with the scourge of drug taking and vandalism.
She said: “Since 2017 I have received almost daily complaints of anti-social behavior including drug dealing, drug taking, vandalism, assault, threatening behavior and the like. It can be a living nightmare.
“While I agree everyone is entitled to a roof over their head, neighbors should not be exposed to the constant stress of living next door to tenants with ‘chaotic lifestyles’.”
The new cross-party scrutiny panel is asking residents, communities, groups and businesses to share their experiences of anti-social behavior and to put forward ideas on how they think the council could deal with it more effectively.
Harassment and other forms of anti-social behaviour, including criminal activity, can have a significant impact on those affected. It affects quality of life, mental health and physical wellbeing for those involved and damages the wider community as a whole.
Between April and December 2021 there were 413 anti-social behavior cases reported to Stirling Council’s community safety team.
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Cllr Bennison, said: “Anti-social behavior is a complex and wide ranging issue involving a variety of different negative and unwelcome behaviours. It can be a blight on our communities and often destroys lives through the impact it has on other people.
“We want to get views across all sections of Stirling society, from tenants and owners to ensure we get a widespread view of people’s experiences and thoughts on how we can address this important issue.
“We want to be able to provide the support that people need and make sure that we have council policies that are robust enough to do that.
“It is essential our communities respect each other and take care of each other. The council, working along with our partners, will do everything it can to ensure our residents feel safe and protected in their own homes and neighbourhoods.”
A decision to agree to a new ad-hoc scrutiny panel into housing allocations and persistent anti social behaviour/criminal activity of council tenants was taken at the council meeting in October, when Councilor Bennison’s amendment to a Tory motion on the issue was backed by the Tories and Green councilor Alasdair Tollemache.
During the debate, Councilor Bennison was among councilors suggesting measures such as giving victims of anti-social behavior more help to move house, including through the allocations policy.
Some members of the SNP/Labour administration, however, said while they agreed with the sentiment, they felt the situation was often more complex, it was sometimes difficult to separate who were victims and who were perpetrators, some people may be “demonized” and that bad behavior might be rewarded by driving neighbors from their homes. There were also concerns that it focused too much on social housing anti-social behavior when anti-social behavior also occurred in private properties.
SNP councillor Alasdair Macpherson also warned there could be “literally dozens of cases” so in practical terms it would not work.
But Tory councillor Bryan Flannagan said: “I have constituents who say their situation was so intense they have no option but to move anyway. I appreciate it’s very complicated and requires a lot of organizations to be involved but this council needs to make clear that we have a zero-tolerance policy with anyone who engages in this behavior and our support is always towards the victims.”
Share your experiences of anti-social behavior by visiting https://engage.stirling.gov.uk/en-GB/projects/ad-hoc-scrutiny-panel
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.