Engelse klagers lopen gevaar op doordat de procedures bij rechtbanken in overlastzaken lang duren. De beklaagden weten dan inmiddels al dat de buren over de overlast hebben geklaagd. De klagers moeten vrezen voor wraakacties van de buren.
Inside Housing meldt:
The ‘dire’ state of the county court system in England is putting the lives of vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour at risk, landlords and their lawyers have warned.
People experiencing anti-social behaviour are forced to live next door to the anti-social neighbours they have agreed to give evidence against for up to two-and-a-half years, research by umbrella body the Social Landlords’ Crime and Nuisance Group has revealed.
The overstretched court system has also left witnesses living in close proximity to ASB perpetrators even after they have given evidence against them as overbooked courtrooms run out of time to complete trials in one shot.
Landlords and their lawyers fear the already dire situation will worsen as the government implements a closure programme that will see 49 of the 216 county courts in England and Wales close their doors. Eight courts were scheduled to shut by the end of last month with the rest due to close by next April.
Eamon Lynch, managing director of the Social Landlords’ Crime and Nuisance Group said six-month delays had become the norm. ‘Some people or organisations were able to conclude within two or three months but at the other end of the spectrum it was 12 to 13 months,’ he added.
The SLCNG has raised its concerns with the Communities and Local Government department and the Home Office’s anti-social behaviour review. Mr Lynch said: ‘The big issue for associations is the effect on the victims and witnesses. It places them at risk.’
Nick Billingham, a partner at law firm Devonshires, described the county court system as ‘dire’ and said: ‘If you need a trial of two days for anti-social behaviour you are looking at significant delays. It has got worse in the last six months.’
One housing association will only discover this August whether an action it started two years ago is successful. Southern Housing Group began eviction proceedings against a notorious drug-dealing gang member on a London estate in May 2009.
Sharon Nandoo, anti-social behaviour manager at Southern Housing Group, said the association had become increasingly frustrated by court delays. She said: ‘Every time you go to court and it’s adjourned [the victims] are obviously very distressed.’
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service said the courts worked hard to ensure cases were heard quickly. Complex cases would not be heard in courts earmarked for closure, he added.