Sometimes, and for many sound reasons it is not always possible for us to accept a complaint of anti-social behaviour or to bring about a satisfactory conclusion to a complaint. The below information explains the criteria we use when accepting, or refusing a complaint for investigation, and why we may stop investigating it.
Whether we refuse or accept a complaint and subsequently close it we will inform you of the reasons in writing. However, even if we refuse to take action on your complaint you still have the option of taking out a private injunction or other legal remedy through consulting a solicitor.
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Sometimes a complaint from a resident is better dealt with by another service unit of the council or one of our partner agencies. In these cases we will not accept your complaint and will advise you of the best agency to contact. Listed below are most of the reasons we refuse complaints, this list is not exhaustive.
The complainant has not spoken to the alleged perpetrator
We would expect complainants to have first spoken to the person who is causing them a problem. In many cases the perpetrator may not realise the problems and distress they are causing. Calmly pointing this out may put an end to the matter. However, we do not recommend that you approach a gang of people, persons acting aggressively or clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We do not want you to be hurt or your property damaged so in these circumstances a call to the police may be more appropriate, or write to us.
The complaint is anonymous
It is difficult to accept and investigate an anonymous complaint as evidence and witnesses may be hard to track down. Under these circumstances we would always seek corroboration of the complaint. Any information received regarding the committing of crimes will be referred to the police.
The complaint is malicious or motivated by discrimination
Complaints that are clearly based on malicious rumour or motivated by the alleged perpetrator’s race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion or age will not be accepted.
The complaint is a one-off incident
Generally acts of anti-social behaviour should be of a serious and persistent nature. Parties, gatherings of people and abusive behaviour may just occur once and never be repeated. Only if complainants are experiencing persistent problems will their case be accepted.
The complainant refuses to put their complaint in writing
Before accepting a complaint we ask that you send it to us in writing, you can also e-mail us. This avoids misunderstandings, demonstrates commitment on behalf of the complainant and remains on file for future reference. All correspondence is treated confidentially. However if you have a problem which prevents you from writing we will treat your situation sympathetically.
The complainant or perpetrator is a tenant of the council or a housing association
In these cases the social landlord has a responsibility to take action against nuisance caused by its tenants and a duty to protect its tenants from acts of anti-social behaviour. If this is the case we will point you in the right direction and support your landlord if requested.
The complainant refuses mediation
In a one-to-one dispute between neighbours or families the intervention of independent, professional mediators can be beneficial. We can put you in touch with the free service offered by Dorset Mediation Service.
The complaint is a neighbour dispute
Neighbours can fall out over the most trivial of things, as well as the most serious of problems. Mediation or the Council’s Consumer Protection may help sort these out. See our Fact Sheet 3 for details of other agencies who may be able to help.
The complaint is about a clash of lifestyle
Crying children, cooking odours, children playing, DIY, disturbed shift workers can cause some people annoyance but they will not be accepted as complaints. Talk to your neighbour first and consider mediation as a solution.
The complaint is about gatherings of young people
If youngsters are causing a problem in your neighbourhood is it a perception or a reality? Young people have a right to meet with their friends and frequently this involves hanging around street corners, alleyways and shopping parades, often they have no where else to go.
Older people often feel intimidated when passing a group of youngsters, this may be a misconception that they are going to be abused or threatened. Thankfully this is very rare. Unless the youngsters are causing damage, being rude insulting, very noisy, drunk or taking drugs we will not take action.
If you are concerned about the activities of a group of young people call the police. We can also ask youth workers to make contact with troublesome youths.
The complainant does not re-contact us
If you fail to return diary sheets or fail to tell us about recurring problems we will not be able to help.
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During the life of any complaint the we reserve the right to close the investigation and take no further action.
The main reason we close a complaint is that we do not hear from the complainant after the initial contact. In these cases we keep the complaint open for six months before closing it. We will write to you with the reasons for closing your case.
In some cases investigations of a complaint run out of steam without a resolution in sight because of lack of evidence or witnesses, or we may not be able to identify the perpetrator/s. It is nearly impossible to pursue a complaint when only one person complains, we need supporting evidence to continue.
Costs may be prohibitive if capital expenditure is needed on fencing, gating, bollards, lighting, youth provision, etc. Legal remedies may not be available such as closing roads and footpaths, reducing access to certain areas.
Sometimes the investigating of a complaint can take many months of hard work and complainants get frustrated and back out. If legal action is being pursued and the courts throw out the case there may be little else we can do.
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