Hello and welcome to my Chief Exec’s Blog for June ’23.
My blogs this year continue to follow our Inspired by Our Communities approach. Each time, I’ll take a close look at one of the priority areas highlighted by our tenants for more focus or improvement from the feedback we received in 2021.
In this month’s blog, I’m going to talk about Community Safety, focusing on anti-social behaviour (ASB) cases and our approach to challenging them.
Southway strives to build strong communities where residents feel safe and are committed to challenging ASB. We consider anti-social behaviour generally to include:
- Serious assault
- Serious harassment
- Aggressive or abusive behaviour
- Drug-related activity
- Noise nuisance
- Vandalism or damage to property
- Hate crime
- Domestic abuse
Some behaviours or actions may affect you but are not formally considered to be anti-social behaviour. However, they may still constitute a breach of a tenant’s tenancy agreement. This includes fly tipping (including the dumpling of rubbish), untidy gardens, and dog fouling.
We receive approximately 200 new reports of ASB per year and cases are dealt with by the Neighbourhood Officer, Age Friendly Officer for the area, or an Action Officer.
In some cases, residents can talk to each other and work out the issue between them with no input from Southway. This is something we would encourage if it’s low-level and you feel confident to do so. We would not expect this if there was serious ASB or you didn’t feel comfortable. If you want to find out more about ASB or need to report a crime, you can do here.
Upon receiving a report, sometimes all we need to do is speak to the tenant or send a letter asking them to, for example, turn their music down or remove rubbish from their garden and the issue goes no further. Other times, we may need to take other action such as using mediation or using the Noise App on a smartphone.
What happens next?
If a case requires intervention, we will where appropriate, offer mediation. This is often successful and is expected by the courts. It can feel daunting, but it doesn’t always involve the parties who have a dispute sitting in the same room. We use shuttle mediation whereby each resident involved talks separately to the mediator and it’s relayed back.
Some cases reported to us are genuine criminal offences and we will refer you to the police as we cannot deal with them, especially in the middle of an investigation. However, when appropriate we will work in partnership with the police to resolve matters. Our staff have regular meetings with the police and there are good working relationships in place.
We do have situations where more than one or two members of the community are impacted by ASB. For example, when a gang of youths are causing a nuisance in a neighbourhood or community. When this happened in Withington last year, we launched a weekly Boxing Academy in Withington Baths, run by local community members as a diversionary activity for the youths.
When things escalate and we need to take more serious action, we have to put together lots of information and assess if there is enough evidence to initiate court action. This can be in the form of an injunction or possession order. However, the criteria threshold for this is very high and at times we need a police conviction to present in court. This is because there is a risk that someone could be put in prison or made homeless.
Have your say on ASB
Recently we’ve been holding ASB drop-in sessions at Withington Library and Westcroft Community Centre. These take place every month and give anyone experiencing ASB the opportunity to come along and talk to a member of Southway’s Action Team.
This year, we’ve also relaunched our ASB Service Improvement Group (SIG). The SIG looks at ASB performance and actual (but anonymised) ASB cases, hears about the tools we use to tackle ASB, and members of the group have the opportunity to share their ideas about how we could improve the service.
The next meeting is at 6pm on Tuesday 6th June at Westcroft Community Centre in Burnage and is FREE to attend. Please book your place on Eventbrite here if you’d like to attend, or email email@example.com to register your interest.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, or thoughts about how we can improve this blog, please get in touch using the form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is incredibly important to us, so – good or bad – my ears are always open!