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Behave in our meetings - or you could lose your home; council warning after public 'reduced employees to tears'.

Byline: CONNOR DUNN St Helens and Knowsley Reporter @connordunn7

PEOPLE could face being banned from council meetings, all council premises and even losing their homes after an "escalated behaviour policy" was approved by Knowsley council.

The new rules, which were given the go-ahead at a full council meeting this week, set out what the authority deems to be acceptable public behaviour while at council meetings, events and dealing with their staff.

The council say they are implementing the new policy "following incidents of council meetings being disrupted, staff in One Stop Shops being subject to behaviour which is of concern and escalating behaviour not addressed by current policy".

A public document on this issue, handed out to councillors, described how members of the public had reduced council employees to tears and tried to obtain the home addresses of council staff.

It also stated that, since the council's creation in 1974, there had never been a need to have any such behaviour policies in place, but, since December, 2015, the behaviour of the public towards the council has become worse.

The new Unacceptable Behaviour - Escalation Policy states that: | Any person who demonstrates "unacceptable behaviour" at public meetings and events may be barred by the council from attendance at all subsequent council meetings and other meetings at which the public may attend for a specified and reasonable period of time. Any such ban will be reviewed on a periodic basis, which shall be no longer than 12 months; | Any customer who demonstrates "unacceptable behaviour or conduct" when at council premises or when in contact with the council may be subject to action; | This includes the person who is dealing with the customer being able to refuse to deal with him/her until the unacceptable behaviour and conduct stops - if the contact is by telephone, the customer will be advised that the call is to be terminated; | The person who is dealing with the customer may refer the unacceptable behaviour to a line manager for resolution; | The customer may be asked to leave the council premises or other place where the business is being conducted. If they fail to do so, the matter may be referred to Merseyside Police and the customer may later be ejected from the building. The customer may also be barred from attendance at all council premises or other places where the business of the council is being conducted or from contacting the council for a specified and reasonable period of time; | If a customer who has been barred demonstrates further unacceptable behaviour (either during the period of a ban or subsequently), that customer may then be barred for a longer period; | Any such ban will be reviewed on a periodic basis, which shall be no longer than 12 months; | This section of the new policy also states that "filming or recording of other persons without their consent is prohibited."

If the behaviour carries on, the council say they will take further action, including issuing and enforcing a Community Protection Warning/ Notice (CPN).

The document also notes that a "breach of a CPN is a criminal offence and can result in a financial penalty.

"In respect of a breach of an injunction, an individual can be liable for both a financial penalty and imprisonment; and those residing in social housing are also at risk of losing their homes in the event of a breach."

The council say they hope adopting this policy will "deter people from behaving poorly in the first place".
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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