4 September 2012

ASBO - A Stop Blogging Order

you wish - Barnet Council!


Mr Mustard keeps an eye on the disclosure log at Barnet Council, which, rather crudely, publishes FOI answers. In those answers he found the following:

Q! Please could you tell me how many how many anti-social behaviour orders were applied for in each quarter in (a) 2009 (b) 2010 (c) 2011 and (d) the latest quarterly figures in 2012.

Q2. Please could you tell me how many how many anti-social behaviour orders were issued in each quarter in (a) 2009 (b) 2010 (c) 2011 and (d) the latest quarterly figures in 2012.

Interesting thought Mr Mustard, must be loads of those. Here are the answers.

A1. Applications for ASBOs were made on 23/06/09; 23/11/09; & 31/05/12

A2. ASBOs were made on 10/08/09; 22/06/11; 01/06/12

Nonsense thought Mr Mustard. Over 300,000 people in Barnet and only 3 ASBOs in 4 years. The numbers fail the sniff test.

Now Mr Mustard follows @MPSBarnet on Twitter and they issue tweets which span a huge range of emotions from very sad to seriously informative and they use humour to get the message across. It seems frivolous until you understand what they are doing. Mrs Angry and Mr Mustard like to have a josh with @MPSBarnet on suitable tweets especially when Mr Mustard really should be doing his day job. Anyway because he is on twitter terms with the local police Mr Mustard was able to tweet them and ask about ASBO levels in Barnet, and here is their reply, which incidentally came within 24 hours of his asking (Roger at the Barnet Eye had a similarly good experience with the Met when he asked something last year and they are very impressive and Barnet Council could learn an awful lot from them. Not only do they respond to tweets quickly but they seem to get naughty people from the scenes of crimes into jail in days.)

Before I begin I must put in a few qualifiers. I am not an ASBO officer and I have had to do a bit of research about this. But a personal count of the ASBO files shows we have 20 active and we appear to be in the course of applying for seven more. We have had more ASBO's in the past, but many of them have expired; I would hope after serving their purpose (with a joke like that he must know that dry old stick, Jeff Lustig).

Please remember the decision on granting an ASBO is a decision for the court, so we may ask the court to issue an ASBO but they may decline, that is why there is a disparity between the large number we appear to be seeking and the small number extant. (ooh, extant, showing your age there Mr MPSBarnet, predating the peelers having been brought up speaking Latin; extant means "still in existance")

I have looked at the dates and by my reckoning we have nine ASBO's issued since 2009 and three in the years 2011 to 2012. Many of these are conviction ASBO's (Granted after the defendant's conviction for a criminal offence) where the councils role in the obtaining the ASBO may be minimal. I am informed that the council do have access to the shared drive which stores our ASBO information. It may be that the council have recorded only those ASBO's where they have initiated it or worked in partnership with an another agency such as ourselves.

So not 3 then, at least 20. Mr Musatrd thought the would be helpful and so emailed Barnet Council FOI section as follows:

I keep an eye on the disclosure log and when I read the answer about ASBO numbers it just looked plain wrong.

This is what the local police tell me about ASBO. It is impressive that I only asked them yesterday and already have the answer.

Please can you review the accuracy of the FOI disclosure that you have made, even though it wasn't my question.

Oh dear, they can't take helpful comments in Governance as here is what they wrote back, also quite quickly for once:

I write with reference to your email below.

I note that you request a review of the response given. We are unable to accede to your request as you were not the requester of the information. (Don't be so boring and stiff, lighten up)

The ICO guidance on complaints is clear that it is the right of the requester of the information to request a review of the response given to them. This right does not extend to third parties. Were such third parties able to request reviews that would deny the requester this right, who may wish to request a review on different terms or grounds to those put forward by the third party. The requester would thus be denied their statutory rights, which would be against both the wording and the spirit of the Act. (Mr Mustard should not have used the word "review" as it can have a special meaning. He was just suggesting they had mislead the applicant who might rely on the information provided and it was duff.)

However, having read the comments of your police informant (ooh, he has a new role, you had his name and he is a senior officer who was copied in), particularly those in the last paragraph it is correct that the police and London Borough of Barnet figures will differ as London Borough of Barnet are not involved in every police application. We have answered the requester’s question. (You were asked how many were applied for, not how many were applied for by the council. You have access to a shared drive with the police and you have given the impression that there are hardly any ASBOs in Barnet which is patently a misleading picture.)

I am sorry that I cannot engage in further correspondence on this matter. (so, eff orf)

Yours sincerely

SL (name redacted by Mr Mustard)

Never one to be easily put off Mr Mustard emailed back 18 minutes later and does now consider the correspondence closed.

Thank you for your response. I wasn't asking formally under the FOI legislation for a Review with a capital R, merely suggesting you take another look. I was concerned that the applicant, and anyone else who looked at the question which I have repeated above, would gain the wrong impression about the number of people with an ASBO in Barnet if they thought that they had to be applied for via the local authority. The applicant might have been very pleased to hear from you with the extra information provided by Mr Name Redacted of the Metropolitan Police which was available to the council itself.

Incidentally you have answered the two questions as if they were linked. One could argue that the second part, the number issued, has been incorrectly answered if the questions are not linked. Also, the first question does not say, "by Barnet Council", so I am not sure you answered that correctly either as the council has access to the shared data drive with the Police.
Never mind, I will write a blog about it.

and here is that blog. Mr Mustard hopes you found it interesting. You can read here about the plans to replace the ASBO.

One last point. Remember those awards Barnet Council had for people values, for going the extra mile, be collaborative, value diversity, be trustworthy, be helpful, be human! Someone in Governance needs to read the poster again and be helpful in the future. Just because it is Mr Mustard writing to you does not mean that you should retreat into your shell, you will get bags more respect for words like:

"Thank you Mr Mustard, I think we erred and we have now sent the extra information on to the applicant and updated the website"

Mind the flying pigs.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Mr Mustard - is there perhaps a confusion here between ASBOs applied for by the council, and those applied for by the police? I speak with some experience on this subject, as I discovered to my horror that Barnet is loath to pursue ASBO proceedings on grounds of cost, no matter how distressing the effect of the anti social behaviour on victims.


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