Making communities safer, together.

Date posted:
13th July 2022
3 minutes
Police meeting
Text

Antisocial behaviour (ASB) is not low level crime.  It devastates the lives of victims and communities, where people deserve to feel safe in their own home.  Its effects are huge.  You can’t sleep, you feel anxious and constantly on edge.

Let me say from the outset that tackling ASB is a top priority for my teams and we are committed to making our communities safer.  But just how do we do that?

I want to share some thoughts this ASB Week to demonstrate how together with valued partners, we’re tackling the ASB challenge head on.

1. Visibility is vital

We launched our new Neighbourhoods teams back in October 2020 in direct response to customer feedback gleaned through our Customer Forum, ‘Customeyes’ (our deep dive insight project) and feedback from estate walkabouts and customer surveys. 

As a result, we appointed 8 Neighbourhood Officers, 3 Tenancy Support Officers, 3 Neighbourhood Safety Officers and 2 Neighbourhood Co-ordinators, with a renewed focus on Neighbourhoods at Director level.  The dedicated team deals with a range of issues such as tenancy management and sustainability and tackling anti-social behaviour – each with a specific patch in the borough.  They either deal directly with issues raised by our customers or signpost to partners who can.

With ASB, the fear and emotion that it brings means we have a duty to be a reassuring, visible presence for customers in our neighbourhoods.

The pandemic taught us that human contact is really important and can’t be taken for granted.  We don’t want to be a faceless organisation to our customers. Whilst our digital programme remains important, nevertheless we recognise that sometimes, our customers just need a name or a face – a person they can safely approach with an ASB issue.

Every officer in the Neighbourhoods Team has their own calling card and is regularly visible within their patch – on first name terms with many customers.  We think this is vital.

2. Trust is earned

An increased emphasis on being visible, has led to greater trust.  A customer doesn’t want to read on a leaflet or on our website that we’re a trusted landlord – they want to see that in action.  We believe our neighbourhoods teams are achieving this through their day-to-day work.  They’re providing support whether that’s on an estate walkabout – logging and dealing with issues relating to a customer’s home or supporting with a benefits claim via our Welfare Benefit and Money Advice Team, or proactively dealing with ASB issues.

3. People matter

Our core business is providing homes – bricks and mortar. But, we know that behind every front door is a valued person, and so our social purpose and mission of improving people’s lives will always remain front and centre. 

We reintroduced Annual Tenancy Visits (ATVs) and have completed a staggering 6,668 in the last 12 months. The purpose of the ATVs is, first and foremost, for our customers to meet their Neighbourhood Officer and have a named point of contact at Halton Housing.  Part of the visit involves the Neighbourhood Officer (NO) looking to see if the household make-up has changed and updating our records accordingly.  This question has raised a number of issues that our customers may have been experiencing, such as overcrowding, under-occupancy, births and even deaths that we haven’t been aware of.  

They also discuss ASB issues, or concerns with repairs, as well as rent arrears and referring to welfare for financial support, if needed.

Case

4. No lone rangers around here

One thing is certain – we can’t effectively deal with the growing ASB issues in our borough without the support of valued partners like Halton Borough Council and Cheshire Police. We know that on our own, we are not always best equipped to deal with all aspects of ASB, and that other partners within our community can provide different powers of enforcement, or tailored support in a way we can’t. Working together we can mutually signpost and improve the recording of ASB incidences, and better investigate and support victims of ASB.

We regularly meet with Cheshire Police and council partners to discuss our neighbourhoods actions plans.  We’re regularly joined on our estate walkabouts by Councillors and PCSOs and on campaigns like ASB week, we will be jointly holding a week of events to demonstrate our joint-working approach.

Meeting with police

Case study

For more information about our plans for ASB Week 2022, visit www.haltonhousing.co.uk/asbweek and we hope to see you there.  Come and chat to the team about what we’re doing in your neighbourhood and let us reassure you about our commitment to making our communities safer, together.

 [Pauline Jones is Director of Neighbourhoods at Halton Housing and a member of the Halton Serious Organised Crime Board.]

Written by

Pauline Jones

Developing thriving neighbourhoods is our key focus. Pauline leads on listening to our customers’ voice, and delivering services that are accessible, perform well, and provide value for money.

Share this post