SOUTHEND Council has defended its record on tackling antisocial behaviour.

A report by victims’ commissioner Baroness Newlove claims local authorities are downplaying the harm leaving people to “suffer in silence”.

She said: “I want this report to be a catalyst for change. I strongly believe if we crack down on ASB, empower victims by informing them of their rights and give powers to police, councils and housing providers to investigate and take rigorous action, it can reduce ASB and stop it spiralling into violence and worse.”

However Southend Council denied it was ignoring the problem.

Carl Robinson, interim director of public protection, said: “The introduction of the borough-wide community safety team has had a positive impact, as during March the team helped with 109 instances of anti-social behaviour.

“Whilst initially focused on High Street, the uniformed team now cover the entire borough, patrolling identified anti-social behaviour hotspots. We are also in the process of preparing a draft public space protection order (PSPO), which is needed as an additional tool to tackle persistent and unreasonable anti-social behaviour.”

The PSPO has been criticised by human rights group as criminalising homelessness.

Mr Robinson continued: “The council also received 48 complaints of anti-social behaviour during March, and 60 per cent of these were classed neighbour disputes.

“We, along with South Essex Homes, work hard to resolve any social housing related anti-social behaviour issues through mediation, warnings and acceptable behaviour contracts.

“We understand that anti-social behaviour can be a blight on local communities and want to work with residents to tackle any issues quickly and effectively. We include an anti-social behaviour case review, also known as community trigger, as part of our response to the problem but encourage residents to contact us in the first instance to see if issues can be resolved informally.

“While we feel we are already doing a lot to tackle anti-social behaviour, we will take the report on board and see if there are further improvements we can make, particularly with low level anti-social behaviour and the impact that can have on mental health.” Crime survey figures revealed ASB in Southend has fallen 1.6 per cent.