City of Melville considers new policy to deal with unreasonable conduct

Stock image.
Stock image.

A SURGE in unreasonable conduct towards City of Melville has led the council to consider passing a new policy to address the issue.

The council agenda shows there were about 800 complaint-related documents in the 2012-13 financial year, compared with more than 1400 in the 2016-2017 period while it was extrapolated that there was about 1100 complaints in the 2017-18 financial year.

The proposed policy Managing Unreasonable Conduct by Customers outlines the types of issues that council officers are facing such unreasonable persistence, demands, arguments, behaviour and lack of cooperation.

Chief executive Shayne Silcox said the proposed policy focused on unreasonable conduct and the impact of that behaviour, rather than a person or their motivation.

“Where unreasonable conduct is identified, a first warning and request to desist from such conduct will be issued,” he said.

“If the conduct ceases, then no further action will be necessary.

“If the unreasonable conduct continues, strategies will vary depending on the type and severity of the conduct, and where relevant the person’s individual circumstances such as language barriers, mental or physical health issues.”

Dr Silcox said the strategies might involve setting limits or conditions such as specifying who the customer may contact within the organisation, what issues will no longer be discussed and how frequently they may contact the City.

“In extreme cases, access to a service may be denied for a period – such as being banned from entering a City-owned facility when the person has engaged in physical or verbal abuse against staff or other service users at the facility – and where there is an imminent threat to safety, a warning may not be given,” he said.

“Restrictions will be reviewed after no more than 12 months, and if there is evidence that behaviour change has occurred, the restriction will be lifted.”

At the July 3 agenda briefing forum, a number of councillors asked questions including what the definition of a customer was, if the policy included social media, whether people could appeal decisions and what could be considered as unreasonable behaviour.

The council will vote whether to implement the policy during the July 17 council meeting.

Dr Silcox said local government in other states had similar policies and there had been no concern with those strategies.

“The City realises that the policy will be opposed by people who regularly engage in unreasonable behaviour in their interactions with the City,” he said.

“We believe that majority of the good people who live in the City of Melville will not accept the types of behaviours that constitute unreasonable conduct and will be supportive of the policy.”