Wednesday, July 25, 2007
ASBOS 'R Us
In Nanny's world councils have been given, or shall we say believe that they have been given, a hell of a lot of power over us.
Now, as we all know, power can corrupt; it would seem that one of Nanny's "respected" local councils has found that to its cost.
Manchester City Council has recently been admonished by the Local Government Ombudsman for an "abuse of power of nightmarish proportions", having given a woman an Anti Social Behaviour order (Asbo) based on false allegations made against her. As such, the council will pay £2K in compensation to the woman.
Council officers were called in, in June 2004, when a woman known as Miss A complained she was being subjected to anti-social behaviour by her neighbour, Mrs X.
Miss A claimed that as a result of the behaviour, which she alleged included threats of violence, intimidation, verbal abuse and playing music too loudly, she had become ill.
However, the report revealed there were no attempts to corroborate the claims with either neighbours or the police.
Mrs X was only made aware of the allegations when she was served court papers for a hearing in December 2004, which led to an interim Asbo being granted.
She contested the decision and more than 20 letters were written in her defence, leading to the Asbo being withdrawn, in court, three months later.
Ombudsman Jerry White said:
"It is extraordinary that the allegations
were never put to Mrs X before the council
sought an Asbo against her, at first behind
her back and then by serving papers on her
just days before a court hearing.
It is extraordinary too that it never
sought corroboratory evidence from third parties.
This was an abuse of nightmarish proportions."
The council was found guilty of maladministration, and told it should review the way in which cases like these are handled.
Deborah McLaughlin, council director of housing, said:
"We have learnt lessons from the way we dealt
with Mrs X in 2004.
In 2005 we fully reviewed our procedures."
Then she went on to more or less claim that they did everything by the book, which kind of undermines her apology:
"we should also point out that our initial
application for an anti-social order was
confirmed by the court in the face of
convincing evidence and was not something
carried out in isolation by our officers."
Seems to me that she is disputing the Ombudsman's ruling.
That's the trouble with acting as judge, jury and executioner; it just leads to trouble in the end.