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Supporting Peabody communities A fresh approach to antisocial behaviour April 2013

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Foreword There seems little doubt that ASB is a pressing problem for housing providers like Peabody. Reading Peabody’s impressive 21st Century Peabody vision and latest business plan it is difficult to see how this could be delivered without effective action on ASB. People cannot feel a full sense of belonging or feel part of the wider local community when they fear or experience behaviour that leads to ‘harassment, alarm or distress’. For those of us who see a wider role for housing providers than simply bricks and mortar the case for action to prevent and respond to ASB seems hard to refute.

providers and other agencies was movingly demonstrated by a resident board member who spoke at the roundtable. This convinced me further that there will be ‘no solutions that are not shared solutions’ based on deeper understanding between residents, landlords and partner agencies. Peabody is to be congratulated for supporting this research and unearthing the extent of difference in key actors’ views of the nature of ASB and the effectiveness of responses. Now is the time for new approaches to galvanise the deep commitment that many of those actors have to resolving the multiple problems that fall under the umbrella term ASB. There needs to be much greater sharing of information and building of understanding between those actors so that residents can take responsibility alongside housing staff and other local agencies for programmes that not only respond to and resolve incidents, but genuinely prevent and divert the problematic behaviour that underlies ASB. Community Investment initiatives must be part of this since true ‘early intervention’ is about creating the conditions for alternative behaviours by potential perpetrators by meeting their needs for meaningful activity. The £750 million that housing associations invest each year in community activities to promote jobs and training, learning and skills, health and well-being and stronger communities1 is surely part of ‘early intervention’. It is therefore encouraging that HouseMark is planning to begin to assess the impact of these activities on ASB, rather than simply counting the cost of more reactive (but essential) responses to incidents after they occur.

Yet there are widely different views about why this is the case and what are the limits of the remit or capacity of housing providers to respond to or to influence it. The tendency to include very different types of problem with palpably different solutions and responsible agencies within the umbrella term ASB does not help. Certainly there are higher expectations of housing providers than their current capacity to deliver, and even where they do identify and take appropriate action residents are not always aware of these actions and rarely feel ownership for them. Not surprisingly therefore perceptions of ASB and of actions against it receive almost as much attention in this report as the actions themselves. The ability of housing providers to act alone is therefore questionable and necessarily limited. This report shows the importance of co-production of effective responses to ASB. Since residents’ perceptions are a key part of the problem, ASB will not be resolved without collaboration with residents in its resolution. An academic visitor from Hong Kong helped us to understand the ways in which housing provider and resident led responses can interact to co-produce effective and sustainable responses. Moreover, as a classic ‘wicked problem’ ASB will not be conquered without joined up working by housing, criminal justice, youth work and other local partners. Such joined up working can be most effective in concrete projects with a shared purpose such as the Race Equality Foundation ‘Parenting Facilitators’ project which one local authority participant in our study told us about.

Please read this report and consider the relevance of its findings and recommendations to your own organisation and think ‘what can we do together, that we could not do alone’? Listen to residents and give them the authority to share information and power. Work with partners collaboratively by focussing more on what can we each do better together rather than who to blame and who can claim the credit for successes. Be clearer about the different types of ASB and appropriateness of different solutions. And finally invest in communities since prevention is always better than cure.

I learned much by being part of the research team and gaining privileged access to the views of residents, staff and leading national experts such as the Chartered Institute of Housing ASB Team, the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group and Housemark whose invaluable mapping of ASB and responses provides a national context for this work. The tenacity required by victims of serious ASB to withstand appalling threats and demand responses from housing

David Mullins Professor of Housing Policy Housing and Communities Research Group University of Birmingham

1. National Housing Federation (2012) Building Futures – Neighbourhood Audit Summary and Key Findings..

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Preface We are very grateful to the University of Birmingham, whose research confirms that we are definitely heading in the right direction in the way we deal with antisocial behaviour, which we take very seriously.

Our 13-strong community safety team is dedicated to ensuring that our residents feel safe and secure in their homes and local area. We work closely with the police and local authorities to deal with cases of antisocial behaviour, and our new case management system ensures that we can respond to and solve new cases much more quickly and efficiently than in the past. Importantly, we are putting a lot of resources into preventative work, working with residents to try and stop antisocial behaviour happening in the first place. Our tenant and family support team offers practical help on all sorts of issues, including parenting skills, and we train our frontline staff and contractors to look out for the signs of domestic abuse. We’ve also recently established a mediation service, which can help sort out disputes between neighbours before they escalate into something more serious. We are leading the field in these areas, and will continue to innovate to improve life for our residents.

Steve Howlett Chief executive Peabody

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Contents

Foreword 2 Acknowledgements 5 Disclaimer 6 Executive summary 7 Community briefing 11

Chapter 4: Understanding the findings

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Resolution Prevention Conclusion

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Chapter 5: Recommendations

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Chapter 1: Introduction

Tackling ASB through a victim/ complainant-centred approach 37 Direct work-resolution 37 1. Face-to-face work – visible, responsive, realistic and reassuring 37 2. Case management – clarity, purpose, responsive and emphatic 37 3. Education – tenant empowerment, good citizenship and local solutions 38 Multi-agency work-resolution 38 4. Improving collaboration with police, community safety team and other agencies 38 Tackling ASB through a community-centred approach 38 Neighbourhood and estate management - prevention 38 5. Review of policies and housing stock 38 6. Visibility of Peabody and communication with tenants 39 7. Residents’ involvement – visibility, increased responsibility and building networks 39 Community investment – prevention 39 8. Financial measures 39 9. Community projects – building more networks and skills within communities 39

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About the research 12 Background 12 Methodology 13 The practitioners’ survey and workshop 13 Focus groups with Peabody residents 13 Research engagement with frontline staff 13

Chapter 2: Contextualising ASB and the housing sector

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Definition and context 15 What is known about ASB in the housing sector 17 Peabody’s policies and approaches to ASB 18

Chapter 3: Findings

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PART 1: The practitioners’ survey and workshop 20 The nature and impact of ASB 20 Peabody policies and approaches 21 The involvement of other partners 22 What is needed to address ASB 22 PART 2: Focus group participants 23 The nature and impact of ASB 23 - Noise 23 - Dogs 23 - Gangs, drugs and alcohol 24 - Prostitution 24 - The causes of ASB 24 Peabody policies and approaches 25 The involvement of other agencies 25 What is needed to address ASB 26 Neighbourhood management 26 Peabody’s approach to resolution 26 Residents’ action and responsibilities 26 Community investment 26 Final observations 26 PART 3: Frontline staff 27 The nature and impact of ASB 27 Peabody policies and approaches 28 The involvement of other partners 29 What is needed to address ASB 30

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Acknowledgements This report would not have been possible without the support of a significant number of individuals and organisations.

We would like to thank Peabody for choosing to work with the Institute of Applied Social Studies (IASS) at the University of Birmingham. We would like to extend our thanks to all the Peabody staff that supported our research, especially those from the community safety team in particular Liz Chambers, Gudrun Burnet and Michelle Francis. We are very grateful to those Peabody tenants who took the time to participate in focus groups and for whom this topic was of significant importance. We would also like to thank the various G15 housing associations, Housemark, the Metropolitan Police and the London Borough of Islington amongst others for their help with the research. We would also like to extend our thanks to Dr Simon Yau from the City University of Hong Kong for his involvement.

Chris Allen Kathryn Farrow Nathan Hughes David Mullins Ă–zlem Ă–gtem Young Institute of Applied Social Studies, School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham

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Disclaimer This report contains the views of individuals and agencies engaged with by members of the IASS research team from which were duly interpreted. The views and interpretations expressed therefore do not necessarily represent those of Peabody. Responsibility for any errors lies with the authors.

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Executive summary About the research

Recommendations

Peabody asked the University of Birmingham to undertake this research as it wished to evaluate its current approach to anti-social behaviour (ASB) and community safety. It wanted to understand the current views of ASB and crime on its estates of both residents and staff. It also hoped to identify best practice as a means to improve intervention and develop better preventative measures. The Research Team, from the University of Birmingham, was led by Chris Allen and included Kathryn Farrow, Nathan Hughes, David Mullins and Özlem Ögtem Young.

The recommendations centre on activities which support the resolution of ASB incidents more effectively and those which might prevent it from happening in the first place. The emphasis in all instances is to place the victim and/or the community at the heart of any response. The following are recommendations that were generated through the research:

Tackling ASB through a victim/complainant-centred approach

Peabody may wish to adopt a more victim/complainantcentred approach through improved communication particularly by meeting face-to-face with victims/ complainants to establish what can and cannot be done at an early stage, to agree how victims/complainants will be informed and to enable community resolution of types of ASB that are less amendable to management enforcement action. A broad over view of the recommendations are set out below followed by a list of all the suggested recommendations.

What did the research involve?

The research took place between April and July 2012 and involved a combination of different elements. It included meetings with Peabody residents (through 3 focus groups) and frontline staff, consulting other housing providers and relevant agencies and experts (through a roundtable event) and drawing on existing ASB related data. All people involved in this research did so voluntarily and their views were anonymised.

Direct work – resolution

The focus groups were conducted in Tower Hamlets and Islington with residents from across different Peabody estates. The groups brought together residents of different gender, age, ethnicity and culture. Peabody invited 119 people in total and from this 35 came forward to participate. 15 frontline staff were involved in the research (from the Community Safety and Resident Services teams). The roundtable took place in London and brought together representatives from the large housing organisations, local and national agencies and an international expert.

Face-to-face work – visible, responsive, realistic and reassuring The emphasis here is to promote early intervention to avoid problems escalating, to manage expectations, and to provide re-assurance that complainants’ concerns about ASB are taken seriously. Part of the challenge is to try to resolve the issue in hand, demonstrate visibly that action is being taken whilst discouraging residents from developing an undue sense of fear and alarm as to the level and frequency of ASB locally. Practitioners also need to ensure that complainants gain a realistic understanding about what Peabody can/ can’t do and the part they themselves can play in resolving the issue and be provided with support and resources to do this. The most effective time to gain feedback about complainant satisfaction is when a case has just been closed and this is useful information for Peabody to gain in terms of demonstrating effectiveness of service.

Findings from the research

It is clear that the term ASB includes a wide range of incidents some of which might be considered thoughtless and inconsiderate through to behaviour which is criminal and intimidating. Whilst noise is the most common issue, all ASB is seen as potentially damaging, in variety ways and to different levels to home life, health and happiness.

Case management – clarity, purpose, responsive and empathic

Not surprisingly there were some strongly held views and there was not always agreement about the nature of the problem or solutions. Residents suggested that Peabody staff needed to do more whereas frontline staff felt that some residents had unrealistic expectations and needed to do more to help themselves and their communities.

Practitioners need to have a good understanding of risk assessment and vulnerability, plus also how to use mediation techniques in order to work effectively with both perpetrators and complainants of ASB. The emphasis is one of demonstrating empathy and understanding of the impact of ASB on individuals and communities.

There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions and Peabody needs to work closely with residents and other local agencies to develop a collaborative approach to tackling ASB. This should include understanding the type of incident and identifying the most appropriate response at an early stage and being clear with victims on what kinds of response are possible. Some types of ASB can be tackled through legal action and will require evidence gathering to support such action. Others will be more likely to be resolved through involving the local community with mediation, community and potential resolutions.

Education – tenant empowerment, good citizenship and local solutions The aim here is to develop resources and responsibility within communities; building on what is sometimes referred to as ‘good citizenship’ training. Practitioners can challenge exaggerated perceptions about the scale and prevalence of ASB by encouraging self-help, neighbour support and local responses.

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Multi-agency work – resolution

Direct recommendations

Improving collaboration with police, community safety teams and other agencies

Direct work – resolution

1. Face-to-face work – visible, responsive, realistic and reassuring a. Introduce ‘triage’ system to identify at an early stage types of ASB and available remedies to distinguish cases where a legal action route is the most appropriate from those where more community based solutions have the greatest potential. An early decision is important since it has implications for resourcing and sharing information with residents. b. Agree detailed action plans with complainants (this may take the form of a resolution contract agreed with the complainant, clearly specifying what Peabody will do and what the complainant will do themselves and what actions could be taken by the wider local community); c. Explore more responsive communication techniques including making more frequent contacts with complainants; d. Consult residents and consider their views and advice when making decisions and taking action to tackle specific incidents of ASB which are affecting a block/ neighbourhood; e. Promote the use of collective action and community-led solutions when dealing with ASB incidents which affect a number of participants at the same time; f. Neighbourhoods could each be allocated a small fund to support community-led solutions to local ASB issues. g. Follow-up calls, possibly by (CST) administrators, soon after the case has been closed, to check complainant satisfaction with reference to the agreed action plan (keep in-house rather than delegate to an outside agency).

The need here is to get greater ‘buy-in’ from external agencies about the contribution they can make to ASB arising from, for example, mental disorder, problematic drug use, street drinking. Collaboration across agency boundaries requires local investment to build trust, confidence and a shared commitment to the neighbourhood.

Tackling ASB through a community-centred approach

Peabody may also wish to adopt a more community-centred approach to prevention encouraging community building, community engagement, self-help and the capacity to change. The recommendations for this section are also categorised under subheadings.

Neighbourhood and estate management – prevention Review of policies and housing stock

A recurrent theme from residents is that ‘Peabody does not enforce its policies’; this may be a misunderstanding of the policies or an observation of practice but either way it promotes a sense of alienation and grievance towards Peabody which requires attention.

Visibility of Peabody and communication with tenants In order to promote a greater sense of partnership between Peabody and its residents there is a need for Peabody to review how it currently communicates with residents – face-to-face, print media, electronic and so on – whilst also identifying new means of communication including the development of social media and other alternative methods.

Resident involvement – visibility, increased responsibility and building networks

2. Case management – clarity, purpose, responsive and empathic a. Peabody to provide professional training for ASB investigators/officers particularly around mediation techniques; b. Assess the specific needs and risk/ vulnerability of a complainant in order to inform the level and nature of response (this assessment will inform the work agreed with the complainant 1a above). Be able to communicate the assessed level and nature of the response to the complainant; c. Be more victim-focused in resource allocation and identifying responses to cases (e.g. putting restorative justice in practice), ensuring, wherever possible, a visible response; d. Provide an out-of-hours hotline (for information and reassurance phone calls) e. Make more use of parenting facilitators to work with families where children’s behaviour is causing issues locally; f. Provide legal services and advice for residents who are faced with counter claims.

The emphasis here is to build social capital and a greater sense of responsibility within estates. Initially this could involve some training and investment by Peabody to build up commitment and competence to participate. The benefits of such an approach could be significant.

Community investment – prevention Financial measures

Recognising the financial pressures that Peabody, as a housing provider, is facing at the current time it is important to look for other financial sources that could contribute to the improvement of the physical and social environments in each neighbourhood.

Community projects – building more networks and skills within communities This would require community investment but should generate benefits in the short and longer terms by enabling residents to learn skills that would help them with employment, improve incomes and fitness. It could also support the building of networks and provide social support within estates.

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Multi-agency work – resolution

3. Education – tenant empowerment, good citizenship and local solutions a. Set up various victim/complainant support schemes (Victim Support ASB Champions, Victim Support Promise). For example, developing ‘buddy’ support for residents experiencing ASB by those who have been through the court process (This would need to include a CRB check for the ‘buddy’ and using a consent form with the victim to allow for name/address to be shared. This would not include the sharing of sensitive data); b. Promote self-help by the residents (for low-level ASB), for example, by talking to neighbours about issues of concern; c. Set out clearer guidance on tackling noise nuisance, for example, collecting evidence, keeping diaries, use of noise monitoring equipment and talking directly where possible and appropriate with neighbours; d. Introduce local tenant mediators and promote the use of mediation; enable constructive and supportive relationships/ partnerships between victims/ complainants and Peabody staff; e. Encourage more responsibility to be taken by residents in acting together and in dealing with ASB such as: collecting shared evidence; not opening the gate/door of the building to everyone; closing gates properly; what and how to recycle so that rubbish management is easier on the estate; f. Provide more educational opportunities to those taking up residence on the responsibilities and expectations of living in close proximity to others. Tenants do not always demonstrate the art of ‘rubbing along together’ particularly when tenants are living in close proximity to others who may well be from different cultures. It may be appropriate to create a leaflet to accompany the tenancy agreement (which the neighbourhood managers discuss with new tenants) which explains tenants’ responsibilities; g. It might be helpful to explain the meaning of the term ‘quiet enjoyment’ being that of ‘living within the property without disturbance from the landlord’ rather than a guarantee of peace and quiet! h. Raise awareness of domestic abuse, good parenting and ASB through bringing in parenting facilitators/domestic abuse specialists to provide programmes and education about these issues.

4. Improving collaboration with police, community safety teams and other agencies a. Share information through multi-agency ASB meetings or share data via a secure IT system among agencies (with the same database accessible by all work partners). This might be facilitated by developing a protocol about information sharing which is supported by inter-agency training addressing what can and cannot by shared; b. Promote and contribute to more accountability and trust between agencies, for example, through shadowing activities; joint training and working together on shared projects; c. Consider co-location of multi-agency partnerships including the police; d. Encourage greater involvement of mental health services to provide more support to residents with mental disorders to enable them to maintain their tenancies; e. Ensure the police deal with ASB that is criminal in nature, for example, drug dealing and prostitution.

Tackling ASB through a community-centred approach Neighbourhood and estate management – prevention

5. Review of policies and housing stock a. Review of Peabody policies, ensuring that they do not promote unrealistic expectations as to what Peabody can/will do. This needs to include the current Tenancy Agreement used with residents. (If altering the tenancy agreement is not advisable then an accompanying leaflet to go with it, as described in 3.f.) Thereafter, Peabody needs to enforce its policies and tenancy agreement to encourage considerate behaviour; b. As noise is the one of the most significant issues causing conflict between residents it may be appropriate for Peabody to institute a sound minimisation strategy upgrading sound insulation between properties; c. Focus on fewer geographical areas (e.g. through stock rationalisation); d. Implement CCTV cameras on estates where ASB is experienced on a regular basis and use CCTV footages as evidence to enable a quick and effective action/response to ASB (though it has to be recognised that this can induce a heightened sense of fear and worry about the prevalence of ASB).

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Community investment – prevention

6. Visibility of peabody and communication with tenants a. Provide greater visibility of neighbourhood managers through a clearer statement of who is in charge of their estate and how they can be reached, for example, on notice boards, newsletters and Peabody websites; b. Neighbourhood staff could also offer regular surgeries for residents at local venues and occasionally appear at youth clubs or other social groups; c. Produce regular newsletters to inform residents of new developments, changes in policies and Peabody’s success stories. Peabody needs to use mixed methods to communicate with residents recognising that whilst many young people prefer social media approaches, some older residents may still prefer traditional forms of communication. d. Undertake some research into the levels of accessibility to and usage of social media amongst residents. Seen as part of the mixed-methods approach previously, social media might present a number of new ways through which traditionally more ‘hard to reach’ residents might be engaged and communicated with. If there is investment in developing Peabody’s social media reach, it should not be seen as a short term approach as research shows that building networks takes time through the ‘snowballing’ process.

8. Financial measures a. Solicit more inputs from local businesses and larger organisations; b. Look for income sources (e.g. matching funds and EU etc.) for dealing with ASB; c. Carry out cost-benefit analyses at the start and end of community investment projects to provide evidence of impact on ASB. 9. Community projects – building more networks and skills within communities a. Promote more community projects mainly targeting at young people, for example, homework clubs, mentoring programmes, sports activities and music programmes, ‘inspiring change’ and visit programmes to encourage self-development and social skills to take responsibility or Pathways to Progress (P2P) youth intervention work; b. Provide more communal areas where some physical activities such as skating and playing football could take place. Also, provide more meeting rooms on Peabody estates to allow for residents to gather with each other and with Peabody staff to promote information sharing, parenting programmes and support; c. Implement activities and training to residents those in need of acquiring new skills such as First Aid, community gardening and employment advice; d. Widen the support to adults through vocational training and volunteering, providing working experience within housing organisations or with contractors.

7. Resident involvement – visibility, increased responsibility and building networks a. Involve more residents in management committees and give greater representation to on the tenancy board as well as in the Peabody magazine; b. Involve residents in setting priorities and monitoring responses; c. Gather residents’ views in various venues such as Area Panels, resident forums, ASB forums, stakeholder meetings, welcome visits and community events, and also by means of postal survey; d. Introduce Estate Champions or Block Champions schemes; e. Develop a resident audit programme which uses trained resident inspectors to inspect their services in line with (former) Audit Commission methodology; f. Explore social media applications that may more directly involve residents in identification and evidence gathering and building safer neighbourhoods.

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Community briefing About the research

Others will be more likely to be resolved through involving the local community with mediation, community and potential resolutions.

Peabody asked the University of Birmingham to undertake this research as it wished to evaluate its current approach to anti-social behaviour (ASB) and community safety. It wanted to understand the current views of ASB and crime on its estates of both residents and staff. It also hoped to identify best practice as a means to improve intervention and develop better preventative measures. The Research Team, from the University of Birmingham, was led by Chris Allen and included Kathryn Farrow, Nathan Hughes, David Mullins and Özlem Ögtem Young.

Recommendations

The recommendations centre on activities which support the resolution of ASB incidents more effectively and those which might prevent it from happening in the first place. The emphasis in all instances is to place the victim and/or the community at the heart of any response. The following are examples of the many recommendations that were generated through the research and in particular the residents’ focus groups:

What did the research involve?

The research took place between April and July 2012 and involved a combination of different elements. It included meetings with Peabody residents (through 3 focus groups) and frontline staff, consulting other housing providers and relevant agencies and experts (through a roundtable event) and drawing on existing ASB related data. All people involved in this research did so voluntarily and their views were anonymised.

More victim focused management of ASB incidents The aim is to promote earlier intervention to avoid the problem escalating, to manage expectations and to provide re-assurance that the victim’s concerns about ASB are taken seriously. Victims need to gain a more realistic understanding about what Peabody can/can’t do and the part they and their community can play in resolving the issue.

The focus groups were conducted in Tower Hamlets and Islington with residents from across different Peabody estates. The groups brought together residents of different gender, age, ethnicity and culture. Peabody invited 119 people in total and from this 35 came forward to participate. They were drawn from the Peabody ASB satisfaction survey, the Customer Panel, plus names provided by Neighbourhood Managers. 15 frontline staff were involved in the research (from the Community Safety and Resident Services teams). The roundtable took place in London and brought together representatives from the large housing organisations, local and national agencies and an international expert.

Develop awareness of residents’ responsibilities This can be achieved by encouraging more responsibility to be taken by residents in acting together and in preventing ASB through shared information and action. For example a leaflet and webpage could provide advice on issues such as collecting shared evidence; not opening the gate/door of the building to everyone; dealing with rubbish and re-cycling more carefully and being aware about the impact of noise for neighbours.

Building stronger relationships and better channels of communication between Peabody and its residents

Findings from the research

Peabody could provide greater visibility of neighbourhood managers and how they can be contacted. Neighbourhood staff could offer regular surgeries for residents at local venues and occasionally appear at youth/social groups. Residents could be more involved in setting priorities and monitoring responses for local ASB prevention and response actions.

It is clear that the term ASB includes a wide range of incidents some of which might be considered thoughtless and inconsiderate through to behaviour which is criminal and intimidating. Whilst noise is the most common issue, all ASB is seen as potentially damaging, in variety ways and to different levels to home life, health and happiness.

Supporting Peabody communities to be resourceful and to help each other

Not surprisingly there were some strongly held views and there was not always agreement about the nature of the problem or solutions. Residents suggested that Peabody staff needed to do more whereas frontline staff felt that some residents had unrealistic expectations and needed to do more to help themselves and their communities.

This can be achieved through building stronger networks through activities targeted at young people, for example, homework clubs, mentoring programmes, sports activities and music programmes. Also, by providing more communal areas where some physical activities e.g. football, dancing and social events, can take place.

There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions and Peabody needs to work closely with residents and other local agencies to develop a collaborative approach to tackling ASB. This should include understanding the type of incident and identifying the most appropriate response at an early stage and being clear with victims on what kinds of response are possible. Some types of ASB can be tackled through legal action and will require evidence gathering to support such action.

Final comment

This community briefing gives a brief flavour of the research project particularly the purpose, methods, findings and recommendations put forward.

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Chapter 1: Introduction The purpose of this report is threefold. First, it is designed to summarise information, views and opinions about the perceptions and realities of antisocial behaviour (ASB) within the neighbourhoods where Peabody’s estates are situated. Second, the report seeks to support Peabody to consider its own approaches to tackling ASB, to identify best practice as a means to improve intervention, promote quicker resolution, identify effective preventative measures and ensure greater positive impacts for residents and staff. Finally, the report is intended to be used by Peabody to share information with other housing associations and others within the housing and community sector as a means of improving knowledge and understanding about ASB. The report has five sections. The first is the introduction, which explains some of the questions the research team sought to explore. In addition, it also briefly sets out the approaches taken to do this. The second chapter looks at the issue of ASB, reviewing definitions at the same time as providing some context as regards the challenge of ASB in the housing sector. The third considers our research findings regarding the competing views about ASB, from the point of view of residents, Peabody staff dealing with ASB on a dayto-day basis, and other housing professionals. In the fourth chapter, the findings are drawn upon further to consider approaches to tackling ASB, from the dual perspectives of ‘intervention’ and ‘prevention’. In doing so, this chapter considers the way in which ASB has been tackled and compares this with what residents, frontline workers and experts believe is needed in order to help tackle the problem. The fifth and final chapter offers some recommendations about what works and might be seen to be best practice in terms of tackling ASB as well as some new approaches and methods with which Peabody – and indeed others - might consider as a means to help tackle ASB.

real sense of purpose and a strong feeling of belonging. In its 2009 strategic review, 21st Century Peabody2, the organisation published its vision for its residents and, their communities. Seven core principles were established that identified an exemplary community as being a place where: 1. People feel they belong; 2. People have homes that meet their needs and are suitable for the changing circumstances of life; 3. The landlord’s service is tailored to the individual; 4. No child is living in poverty; 5. All residents are supported in their daily lives and in their longer-term aspirations; 6. People feel part of the wider, local area; 7. A sustainable environment is evident. From these seven key principles – all of which Peabody believe to be interdependent - a strategic decision was taken to understand how it tackles ASB as an organisation both through its policies and approaches, and what community safety issues emerge out of this across its housing stock. For Peabody, this improved understanding will support the delivery of its 2011-2014 Business Plan3 part of which identifies a range of strategic goals. This research in particular seeks to support two of these goals:

Background

Peabody was established in 1862 by the American philanthropist George Peabody to deal with slum living conditions and poverty across London. Peabody now manages more than 19,000 homes across London. Peabody sees itself as providing high-quality, affordable housing which in turn will contribute towards promoting cohesive communities and enhancing opportunities for low income people across London and its surrounds. Peabody has set out its mission to make London a city of opportunity for all, ensuring as many people as possible have a good home, a

Goal 5: To create desirable neighbourhoods where people want to live Goal 7: To shape and influence the national and local agenda including ‘stimulating debate on key social issues’ through undertaking and promoting evidence-based research.

2. http://www.peabody.org.uk/about-us/21st-century-peabody.aspx 3. http://www.peabody.org.uk/media/7115972/businessplan2011-14.pdf

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Methodology

The research informing this report was undertaken between April and July 2012. The research team adopted a mixed methods approach in order to consider what constitutes ASB ‘best practice’. This involved engaging Peabody residents, frontline staff (especially Community Safety Team members), consulting other housing providers and relevant agencies and drawing on existing ASB related data and literature. There were four main elements of the research each of which is briefly considered below.

Three focus groups were conducted with residents from across different Peabody estates. Taking place in Tower Hamlets (Group 1) and Islington (Group 2 and Group 3), the groups brought together residents of different gender, age, ethnicity and culture. Peabody undertook to approach and recruit participants directly. They invited 119 people in total to the focus groups via telephone, email and letter. They were identified from the Peabody ASB satisfaction survey, their Customer Panel plus names provided by Neighbourhood Managers. In total, 35 residents participated.

The practitioners’ survey and workshop A preliminary survey about the incidence of and responses to ASB in the housing sector was designed by David Mullins, before being distributed to members of the G15 group of housing associations4. Using the findings from the survey, David facilitated a one-day workshop in London which brought together practitioners from the G15 with those from other housing organisations, statutory partners and agencies including local authorities and the police amongst others. A number of academics with expertise in the field – both from the UK and elsewhere – were also included. As part of this, the following organisations, agencies and institutions contributed: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The first group comprised of 13 young residents who were aged between 12-18 years old of whom eleven were male and two female. Most of the group were of ethnic minority heritage and all were from the same Peabody estate in Tower Hamlets (subsequently referred to as Group 1). The focus group took place as a part of a weekly meeting of an established youth group. They were all residents of Peabody but had not necessarily been subjected to ASB. The other two groups were different in that they brought together a mixture of residents from different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages and genders from various Peabody estates across London. In the second group there were 12 participants (Group 2) and 10 in the third group (Group 3). All the participants in these two groups had made complaints about ASB and were known to Peabody staff through this process.

Amicus Horizon Catalyst Housing Chartered Institute of Housing Circle 33 Housing City University of Hong Kong HouseMark London Borough of Islington London Borough of Southwark London Fire Brigade Metropolitan Housing Partnership Metropolitan Police (ASBU, Kensington & Chelsea) Metropolitan Police (Partnership & Projects, Southwark) Peabody Housing Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group University of Birmingham Metropolitan Police

However, there are a number of limitations to the focus group process used within this research. Firstly, the majority of participants of the focus groups (those in Group 2 and Group 3) were recruited through Peabody’s own records of complainants and therefore would be expected to have a more acute sense of the impact of ASB than what might be typical of most other Peabody residents. We had also hoped to recruit perpetrators of ASB to hear their views about Peabody policies but were unable to do so within the timescale available for the research. Finally, those who came and participated in two of the focus groups may well be people for whom their experience of ASB is still unresolved and of concern and they may therefore be more motivated to express their sense of grievance. It is, therefore, important to recognise that whilst the views of participants are valid and need to be heard, they cannot be regarded as representative of all residents on the Peabody estates. The findings from these activities are incorporated into chapter three, part two.

The findings from the survey and the workshop can be found in chapter three, part one.

Focus groups with Peabody residents Focus groups provided the opportunity of exploring the views and perceptions of Peabody residents about ASB, giving the participants scope to discuss and reflect upon their experiences and ideas within a group. Participants were able to challenge one another’s views about the issue and also suggest and discuss possible ideas for improving how Peabody deals with ASB. Participation was agreed to be anonymous in order to allow residents to speak freely about what the issues were and how, in their view, those issues would be most effectively tackled. Individual residents’ names are not identified in any material presented in this report.

Research engagement with frontline staff Finally, the research team employed a range of approaches to engage Peabody’s frontline staff, in particular those from the Community Safety Team, the Neighbourhood Management Team (now Resident Services) and others with positions of responsibility. The term ‘frontline’ is used here to convey that the members of staff had direct contact with Peabody residents and spent time working with them on incidents of ASB or related issues.

4. http:// www.g15.org.uk

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Both individually and collectively, formal and informal interviews as well as roundtable discussions were facilitated with frontline staff. Some of the findings of the focus groups were shared with frontline staff through a series of discussions in order to explore more deeply the issues raised and to set them in the context of organisational approach and responses. In addition, members of the research team also undertook workplace observation and staff shadowing to better understand how things work on a day to day basis. Arrangements for this were facilitated by Peabody management but participation was voluntary and responses were anonymised. In total there were 15 frontline workers interviewed, observed or both. Findings from these elements have also been incorporated chapter three, part three. It is worth noting in relation to the findings and recommendations in this report that the research was constrained by resources and is therefore not an exhaustive examination of all aspects of ASB across the entirety of Peabody’s estates.

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Chapter 2: Contextualising ASB and the housing sector Definition and context

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides the legal definition of ASB as ‘acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household’ as the alleged perpetrator. The Act therefore deliberately leaves the definition of what behaviour is ‘antisocial’ entirely subjective. As argued by Hughes:

The policy and legislative responses to ASB do not however exist in a vacuum, many are shaped and determined by the actions of those in the political sphere or by events in the public and social spaces. For instance, in 2005 the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, launched the Respect Agenda, announced that ASB needed to be tackled more effectively through greater partnerships between central government, local agencies, local communities and citizens10. Shaping a cross-government strategy - tackling ASB and its causes – those within the political sphere perceived that ASB was more common and more of a problem to those in areas of poverty and deprivation, many of which were also often characterised by higher levels of social housing. Consequently, the Respect Standard for Housing Management (RSfHM) was established in 2006 to assist social landlords to tackle ASB. The RSfHM formed a key part of the Government’s Respect initiative and was built on established good practice. It aimed to embed a culture of respect in housing management activities so as to give confidence to residents that ASB would be tackled. In the same year, government announced that the RSfHM would be passed to sector ownership at which time the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH), Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group (SLCNG) and HouseMark took responsibility. Following a period of consultation during which Peabody was part of the Steering Group, the Respect: ASB Charter for Housing11 (‘the Charter’) was established. Whilst still voluntary it formed a key part of the new, co-regulatory approach within housing, acting as a statement of the need for partnership working to improve better outcomes and being more accountable to residents.

‘If it caused you harm, then seemingly by implication it is antisocial5.’ Whilst there have been attempts to categorise the types of behaviour that might typically be classified as antisocial, the range of behaviour remains broad and at times ill-defined, seemingly with the intent to empower the complainant to determine when behaviour leads to ‘harassment, alarm or distress’. Clearly there are challenges in applying this definition6. These include the variation in interpretation and application in different contexts. As Millie7 suggests, ‘the subjectivity and context specificity of antisocial behaviour means some behaviours will be unacceptable in one situation, but accepted, or even celebrated, in another context.’ For example, variation might be expected in the context in which ‘noise’ is considered harmful or distressing. This variation equally applies to individuals or groups who may experience the same behaviour but perceive its nature differently, depending on factors such as age, level of isolation, ‘tolerance levels and expectations about the quality of life in the area’8. An equally variable definition was used in Part II (’Housing’) of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003. Here, ASB was defined as conduct ‘capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person and which directly or indirectly relates to, or affects, the housing management functions of a relevant landlord’9. Part II of the Act required social landlords to adopt and publish policies on ASB whilst strengthening their respective powers to take action against tenants who cause nuisance or annoyance to neighbours including the power to ‘demote’ secure tenancies by order of a County Court which was meant to make eviction easier. The Act also made provision for social landlords to apply for injunctions against people causing nuisance and annoyance to people in the neighbourhood of their housing stock.

It would appear however that change is on the horizon. For instance, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 makes provision for the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners to take on strategic leadership and hold Chief Constables to account in each police force area across the country excluding the Metropolitan Police in London. Commissioners will be an important influence on shaping how ASB is tackled at a local level. Of greater potential impact, however, will be the Home Office’s ASB White Paper.

5. p.392, Hughes, N. (2011) ‘Young people ‘as risk’ or young people ‘at risk’: comparing discourses of anti-social behaviour in England and Victoria’, Critical Social Policy 31(3): 388 – 409. 6. See for example, Burney, E. (2005) Making People Behave: Anti-Social Behaviour, Politics and Policy. Cullompton: Willan Publishing; Brown, A. (2004) ‘Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime Control and Social Control’, Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. 43(2): 203–11; Millie, A. (2008) ‘Anti-Social Behaviour, Behavioural Expectations and an Urban Aesthetic’, British Journal of Criminology 48: 379–94; Millie, A., Jacobson, J., McDonald, E. and Hough, M. (2005) Anti-Social Behaviour Strategies: Finding a Balance. Bristol: Policy Press; and, Prior, D. (2009) ‘The Problem of “Anti-Social Behaviour” and the Policy Knowledge Base: Analysing the Power/ Knowledge Relationship’, Critical Social Policy 29(1): 5– 23. 7. P.384, Millie, A. (2008) ‘Anti-Social Behaviour, Behavioural Expectations and an Urban Aesthetic’, British Journal of Criminology 48: 379–94 8. pp.4-5, Whitehead, C. M. E., Stockdale, J. E. and Razzu, G. (2003) The Economic and Social Costs of Anti-Social Behaviour. London: London School of Economics. 9. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/38/contents 10. Millie, A. (2008) ‘Anti-Social Behaviour, Behavioural Expectations and an Urban Aesthetic’, British Journal of Criminology 48: 379–94. 11. http://www.cih.org/resources/PDF/Marketing%20PDFs/respect-asb-charter-for-housing.pdf

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Following the Government’s consultation on rationalising the set of tools and powers available to tackle ASB in 2011, in May this year the Home Office published a White Paper. Entitled, Putting victims first: more effective responses to antisocial behaviour12.it promises significant reforms including:

Some of the areas covered in the White Paper refer specifically to actions being taken by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). These cover two items under the title ‘Evicting Nightmare Neighbours’ and are likely to form a part of any ensuing legislation. The ‘mandatory route to possession’ aims to bring swifter relief to victims of ASB by obliging courts to grant possession where serious housing-related ASB has already been proven; a move that is perceived to make eviction easier for tenants breaching injunctions, noise abatement notices or convicted of serious offences.

• identifying vulnerable and repeat victims earlier through better logging of calls and managing of cases • simpler legal processes reducing the number of tools and powers from 19 to six orders that can deal with ASB if it escalates into criminality • Community Harm Statements for courts to see the impact of the ASB on people’s daily lives • a ‘Community Trigger’ to force agencies to deal with multiple reports of ASB.

An additional power proposed in the White Paper is in response to the 2011 summer riots, events the Housing Minister described as ‘riot tourism’. Under the provision, any tenant or member of a tenant’s household convicted of rioting anywhere in the UK could find possession proceedings brought against them and their family if they are social housing tenants. This link between social housing management policy and events taking place in the social and public spaces elsewhere has set a difficult precedent for housing providers to respond to. It has raised questions about the social justice of tenure specific remedies affecting not only perpertrators but also their family’s home. The wider impact of this was evident in the aftermath of the summer 2011 riots, when politicians spoke about how anyone found guilty of being involved in the riots should be evicted from social housing. Associating the problem of the riots and the range of criminal activities that ensued with the right to a social housing tenancy was not only tenuous but so too extremely problematic. More so was the apparent ease and simplicity with which politicians – including the Prime Minister – suggested that such individuals could be ‘evicted’ given that social landlords did not have the tools available to them to do so. In this way, ‘tackling’ ASB is seen to be overly simple and where punitive actions and measures are the preferred option. Such views were reinforced by the media. Whilst as equally simplistic, the media has a tendency to be sensationalist and emotive, not only raising expectations about the apparent ease in which to tackle ASB but so too encourage unrealistic perceptions about the nature, scale and prevalence of ASB, where the ‘problem’ appears rather more exaggerated and overblown than the reality might suggest.

The intended effect of these measures is to place emphasis on the role of local agencies to develop approaches and responses that effectively meet the specific needs of victims of ASB within their localities. This includes a recognition that the nature of ASB varies between localities, and therefore the response should also vary. The Government is explicit in its support for empowering local agencies to identify priority issues and effective responses to those issues, but also in the need for local agencies to take shared responsibility. The ‘Community Trigger’ offers a clear example of this emphasis on empowerment and responsibility. The White Paper provides a duty on local authorities, policy and health bodies to deal with complaints raised by members of the community. Whilst offering suggested criteria by which local agencies may determine when a response to a set of complaints is necessary (including the much cited three or more complaints from one individual about the same problem, or five individuals complaining about the same problem), the Government is clear that exact thresholds will be determined and published by local authorities. The Community Trigger is currently being piloted in a number of local areas, including Brighton, Manchester and West Lindsey. The increased emphasis on recognising and addressing vulnerability also indicates a shift to locally determined approaches underpinned by central requirements. Local agencies are being encouraged to identify and support victims at high risk of harm, including ‘flagging’ high risk victims when complaints are made and assessing potential risks as part of the initial complaint handling procedure. This builds upon the ‘ASB Call Handling and Case Management Trials’13 carried out in eight police forces. Agencies dealing with ASB in an area are encouraged to develop joint case management principles, including sharing information and resources, working together to identify ‘long-term solutions’ that consider and address underlying causes of ASB.

12. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/parliamentary-business/written-ministerial-statement/putting-victims-first-wms/ 13. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/asb-call-handling-trials-report/asb-focus-on-the-victim

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What is known about ASB in the housing sector

A percentage breakdown of types of ASB in 2011/12 (percentage) developed from the HouseMark report is set out below:

The best way to understand the nature and scale of ASB in the housing sector is to consider data available via the HouseMark14 ASB benchmarking service. As part of this service, HouseMark provides its members a cross-sector UK wide ASB benchmarking service through which housing providers are able to compare and improve their ASB service provision. Published on an annual basis, 2012’s report was the fifth of its kind and brought together information from 199 different housing organisations, collected and input on both a quarterly and annual basis. Of the 199, around 60% have specialist ASB teams. Just over a third use generic housing officers to deal with ASB related issues, while 7% have a mixture15. Of those contributing data, approximately two-thirds operate in one local authority area.

Noise 33.8% Harassment/threats 18.0% Rubbish 7.5% Garden nuisance 7.2% Pets/animals 6.7% Drugs 5.3% Communal areas/loitering 5.3% Vandalism 4.6% Other criminal behaviour 3.9% Domestic violence/abuse 2.5% Alcohol related 2.0% Other violence 2.0% Hate-related incidents 2.0% Vehicles 1.9% Prostitution/sex 0.3%

From this year’s report, a modest rise was recorded in the total number of ASB cases: from approximately 61,000 in 2009/10 to just over 65,000 in 2011/12. Completion times for cases – when the housing provider states that a reported ASB case has been closed – were shown to range from less than seven weeks to more than 17 weeks, the median being 82 days. The report published information about the different types of ASB using the categories established by the National Policing Improvement Agency as part of the 2011 National Standards for Incident Recording (NSIR)16. This enabled housing sector data to be compatible with that of other agencies. On this basis, ASB incidents are divided into three categories:

This breakdown highlights the very wide range of activities, often with widely varying causes and potential remedies that are brought together under the umbrella term ASB. In our view this causes potential problems of expectations and action available to social landlords since different categories of ASB are not equally susceptible to intervention by landlords. In terms of the actions taken by housing providers to tackle ASB, the HouseMark report uses two main categories: early intervention and enforcement. ‘Early intervention’ focuses on what can be done to prevent problems escalating to the point at which ‘Enforcement’ action might be required to bring about closure of the recorded case. Two points are worth noting here. First, whilst ‘early intervention’ focuses on preventing escalation, this would not necessarily be the same as actions or interventions which occur before a problem exists but which might also be preventative. Second, whilst a recorded case might be closed by a housing provider, this may not necessarily mean that the case is ‘resolved’ to the satisfaction of either the complainant or the wider resident community.

• Personal – either deliberately targeted at an individual or group or having an impact on an individual or group rather than the community at large • Nuisance – where the behaviour affects the local community in general rather than individual victims • Environmental – where the effects of ASB have an impact on the natural, built and social environment Against these categories, 2011/12 data suggests that just under half of all new ASB cases were Nuisance (45%) followed by Personal (29%) and Environmental (26%). Consequently, noise was highlighted as being the most reported type of ASB making up a third of all new cases, followed by harassment and threats.

14. http://www.housemark.co.uk 15. p.8, Wickenden, J. (2012) ASB benchmarking: analysis of results 2011/12. London: HouseMark. 16. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/count-nsir11?view=Binary

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The CST includes specialist members of staff some of whom are trained in mediation and all of whom are trained in domestic violence issues whilst Neighbourhood Managers have a more visible presence across Peabody’s estates. In addition, specialist support is also available from Peabody’s Tenant and Family Services Team as well as its Family Support Workers. Where appropriate, members of Peabody’s CST further support those affected by ASB by referring them onto other in-house services including the Welfare Benefit Advice Team as well as relevant agencies external to Peabody.

In terms of preferred measures to close cases of ASB, the report is quite unclear particularly when it states that around 44% of cases are resolved through using ‘other intervention’. As HouseMark explain however, this is likely to include several different interventions. If ‘other intervention’ is excluded from the data, the report suggests that visiting and speaking to perpetrators is the most used action for tackling ASB; accounting for approximately one in four recorded cases. More visible measures, for instance the installation of CCTV was only successful in bringing about the closure of 191 cases (0.6%). In relation to evictions and other judicial interventions, the number of successful closures was similar, 216 cases (0.7%). In contrast to the recent policy developments discussed earlier, there is very little focus in these statistics on community empowerment or community resolution. As we go on to argue, an essential element of definitions and procedures for reporting ASB that are open to the community is the recognition that the community also has a major role to play in its resolution.

In 2011-2, Peabody data shows that 1,074 cases ASB related cases were opened by Peabody and managed by the CST and Neighbourhood Managers. Of those that were duly closed by Peabody’s CST and Neighbourhood Managers, the ‘types’ of ASB related to: (cases) Noise (domestic/neighbour) 22% (232) Noise (loud music) 13% (143) Domestic abuse (female victim) 8% (86) Communal (congregation of groups) 8% (84) Criminal behaviour (other) 5% (56) Harassment (threats from groups) 4.5% (49) Physical violence 4% (43) Harassment (offensive behaviour) 3.5% (38) Drugs (presence of dealers) 3% (35) Harassment (bullying/intimidation) 3% (30)

This year’s report also noted how the percentage of ASB cases being closed by housing providers was continuing to rise as were levels of resident satisfaction, with approximately four out of five residents being shown to be satisfied with the ASB complaint handling and only slightly less (74%) being satisfied with the outcome.

Peabody’s policies and approach to ASB

Peabody has an ASB17 policy which states that in tackling ASB it will: • • • • • •

Demonstrate accountability, leadership and commitment; Empower and reassure residents; Demonstrate prevention and early intervention of ASB; Provide support for victims and witnesses; Protect our communities through swift enforcement; and Give support to tackle the causes of anti social behaviour.

In line with the HouseMark data relating to ‘types’ of ASB, noise related incidents were the most common across Peabody’s estates. When added together (those ‘types’ shown above along with other recorded ‘types’), these accounted for just almost 36% of all ASB cases closed. Similarly, around 15% of all cases related to harassment in all its various forms. Unlike the HouseMark data, however, the number of Peabody cases closed which related to ‘domestic abuse’ was significantly higher, accounting for more than 8% of cases. As regards HouseMark, this was just 2.5%. This is likely to reflect the specialist responses developed by Peabody to this type of crime rather than a higher incidence among Peabody tenants. Its CST recently added a qualified domestic violence co-ordinator to its staff not only raising awareness of such issues but also providing frontline staff with a greater understanding and skillset with which to combine approaches to tackling ASB at the same time as domestic violence. Here the focus has included the need to encourage self-help, engaging residents, complainants and victims alike whilst supporting the building of networks across residents. As the figures suggest, this would seem to have had a positive impact in terms of cases closed.

To achieve this, Peabody states that it provides a range of different means through which residents are able to report ASB, including in person, in writing, over the telephone, by email and online via its website. It believes that it provides support for those affected by ASB whether complainant, witness, resident or perpetrator, alleged or otherwise. Peabody has a dedicated ASB team – the Community Safety Team (CST) – who deal with the more serious or complex cases of ASB. They are supported by Neighbourhood Managers who deal with more ‘low level’ cases of ASB, broadly including such issues as neighbour disputes, nuisance, littering and other similar activities. The severity of cases is determined when the report is received and distributed to the appropriate team. An in-house legal team provide legal support and training as necessary.

17. For more information on Peabody’s ASB Policies - http://www.peabody.org.uk/services/safety-and-security.aspx

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As regards the complainant experience, Peabody undertakes satisfaction surveys and requests all complainants, once the reported case has been closed, to respond to a number of questions about their experience. An audit undertaken by KPMG in 2011-2 showed that Peabody dealt with 850 reported cases of ASB in 10-11 and by the time of the audit in 2011-12, 247. The percentage of these cases for whom a satisfaction survey was returned was 13.5% and 10.5% respectively. Having considered more recent data, at the 2011-2 year end 199 surveys had been completed and returned. From the data supplied by Peabody, 72.4% of respondents were satisfied with the handling of their ASB complaint whilst 67.1% were satisfied with the eventual outcome. Both are slightly below the equivalent HouseMark national averages. Of those who responded, just over 84% of respondents stated that they would report any further incidents of ASB to Peabody. Frontline staff were seen by respondents as being helpful and courteous (73% and 81% respectively), and on the whole easy to contact (72%). In terms of the time taken to be interviewed by frontline staff, respondents were again overwhelmingly positive with 72% being satisfied. Whilst the percentage was down slightly in terms of respondents being satisfied with the advice given to them as complainants (69%), given the potentially emotive nature of ASB complaints, respondents to the satisfaction survey felt that frontline staff were responsive and sensitive (76% and 72% respectively). Finally, just over 71% of all respondents were happy with the contact and information given to them throughout the investigation and resolution process. From those respondents completing and returning the satisfaction survey data, it is clear that the vast majority of respondents were overwhelmingly satisfied with the service and support provided by Peabody. Of particular note was the extremely positive light in which those working on the frontline of tackling ASB were seen by respondents.

committed to the Respect Charter for ASB, especially in the way in which ASB was seen to be “owned throughout the organisation”. In conclusion, the KPMG audit provided information about the costs of tackling ASB. In the year 20112, the budgeted costs of the ASB service to Peabody was £807,726. For each of the reported ASB cases, it was shown to cost Peabody £950. One issue that the Peabody experience raised for the research team was the need to distinguish at an early stage the types of ASB that are resolvable through landlord management actions and those that are not. If widespread reporting of ASB is encouraged, there will inevitably be a significant number of cases that fall outside of the sanctions and powers that housing managers have at their disposal, thereby raising the probability that complainants will be dissatisfied with responses. Our suggestion is that this dilemma should be recognised from the outset and that community involvement in classing activity as ASB and reporting it to their landlord should also be linked to community involvement in resolution of types of cases that are not amendable to enforcement action. An early ‘triage’ of types of incident by potential types of remedy could be used to trigger a ‘community resolution’ channel wider than current use of mediation between individuals in which Peabody empowers, trains and supports residents to take appropriate actions to resolve cases in which housing management enforcement action is not an available remedy.

The audit by KPMG found that Peabody’s performance in tackling ASB had improved in the preceding eighteen months. However, the audit highlighted how there had been relatively little assessment of value for money in terms of the way in which complaints of ASB were resolved. Nonetheless, the audit found that on average around 95% of complaints were reviewed within a month of being received. Of those new cases, just under 95% of cases had action plans in place within 28 days of them being reported. From considering the cases themselves, the audit stated that just under 75% of all cases were satisfactorily handled with slightly more (78%) having a satisfactory outcome. The audit saw the service provided by Peabody as favourable. Amongst the various examples of good practice highlighted in the audit report, Peabody’s frontline staff were highlighted as being

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Chapter 3: Findings The nature and impact of ASB

This chapter outlines the main findings from the different approaches set out in chapter two to try and better understand views, perceptions and experiences of ASB. Reflecting the introduction to these groups previously, this chapter is split into three parts:

During the workshop, practitioners recognised that further change was going to impact the housing sector in the foreseeable future. To minimise any detrimental impacts, practitioners felt that greater consistency was now more urgent than ever before, not least in terms of improving the way in which the sector ‘defines the problem’. As one participant put it, there was a distinct need to ‘homogenise’ definitions as indeed the recording and monitoring of cases. As part of this, setting the boundaries for what might not be ASB was also deemed important. One participant spoke about how the main issue underpinning many complaints was:

• The practitioner survey and workshop; • The focus groups; and, • The frontline staff To do so, each part is structured around four broad thematic headings. As well as providing structural consistency, this also allows for the differences as well of the similarities across the different research participants to be both compared and contrasted. These four thematic headings were: • • • •

‘The clash of lifestyles...wildly differing lifestyles are likely to rub against each other’.

The nature and impact of ASB; Peabody policies and approaches; The involvement of other agencies; What was needed to address ASB

Speaking about the alternative - to ‘rub along together’ - practitioners spoke about what they perceived to be the most common types of ASB: noise nuisance followed by harassment and misuse of communal areas. Some acknowledged how different demographic groups were likely to be more concerned about different issues. As one participant explained, older residents are more likely to be concerned about ‘teenagers are hanging around’ whilst for residents with families, complaints were more likely to be concerned about noise. Most participants felt that ASB was far from ‘location-specific’ although some discussed evidence suggesting that urban, high density and flatted areas were most susceptible to ASB as were street properties and poorly-insulated converted houses. There was also a noted correlation between sites of reported ASB and those with high levels of social deprivation.

Whilst providing some structural consistency, the thematic headings also offer a means by which the different sets of findings can be compared. Such headings have limitations however. Because each of the research groups engage and experience ASB from quite different positions and perspectives, the response to each of the broad thematic headings was – at times – slightly different. Consequently, there are some inconsistencies between the different research groups as indeed some overlap between the different thematic headings. In trying to minimise the differences and thematic slippage, we have drawn together some of the cross-cutting findings and ideas in our analysis in chapter four. Both chapter four and this chapter are then used to inform the recommendations that seek to improve the way in which ASB is tackled (chapter five).

Participants overwhelmingly agreed that residents’ perceptions of ASB were significantly greater than the evidence suggested. Because of this, participants stressed the need to better understand residents’ perceptions. At present, a variety of methods were used to collect data about residents’ perceptions including: questionnaires; home visits; residents meetings; stakeholder meetings; ASB forums and focus groups. Still, many participants agreed that they did not have a full enough understanding of the views of residents nor did they have a full enough picture of the actual scale and prevalence of ASB. A fundamental part of this problem is the potential mismatch between types of ASB that are important to residents and those that landlords have the power to take action on.

PART 1: The practitioners’ survey and workshop

In this section, the thematic heading ‘Peabody policies and approaches’ is replaced with a much broader section focusing on ‘Policies and approaches given that the participants did not have a specific knowledge or experience of Peabody’s policies or approaches to tackling ASB. It is worth noting however that from engaging practitioners, there was a very real desire to improve the environment within which people live as a means of tackling ASB. In doing so, all of the practitioners acknowledged the role and impact that ASB can have on the lives and wellbeing of both individuals and communities. Whether considering the implementation and impact of policies and legislation, or in designing approaches to resolve and prevent ASB, all were as equally aware of the detrimental impact of ASB as indeed they were the benefits of reducing ASB levels.

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Participants also spoke about how residents’ expectations were largely unrealistic about what could be done to tackle ASB. Most participants agreed that residents placed responsibility for the ‘problem’ of ASB squarely with housing providers. Findings from both the survey and workshop reinforce this view, with a number of those participating how residents see eviction and other judicial measures as being the preferred – at times only - option for responding to and tackling ASB. Whilst this may be so, practitioners were keen to highlight the HouseMark data which suggests that less than 1% of ASB cases are brought to closure in such a way. Some felt that when housing providers failed to respond with judicial means, it reinforced perceptions held by residents and complainants of a lack of commitment to enforcing their respective policies. Participants clearly believe that a gap exists between the expectations of complainants - and residents more widely - and the ‘available remedies’.

Housing providers needed to ensure that those dealing with complaints of ASB were professionally trained and had the interpersonal and communication skills necessary given the personal and emotional impact ASB can have on individuals and communities. On communication, practitioners consensually acknowledged the positive impact of ensuring frequent contact with complainants as a means of reassuring as well as recognising that all support needs were identified and duly responded to. Others also acknowledged the need to incorporate the notion of risk assessment into their handling of ASB complaints. Whilst unpopular, there was the recognition that in some instances, the introduction of CCTV, security wardens and other security measures were necessary and had worked. There was however a balancing of this, with some participants reminding the workshop that a very small percentage of ASB complaints were resolved by means of increased security measures.

Participants however did not feel that this was caused by residents’ expectations only. Participants spoke about how successive governments as well as the media had contributed to the problem. Participants discussed how even where an ASB incident was criminal, complainants focused on housing providers as being the ones with the responsibilities. Rarely, according to the participants, did complainants turn directly to the police. One of the identified problematic impacts of this was that increasingly housing providers were being asked to do more with less. In the current economic climate, this was seen to be particularly challenging and most participants spoke about the need to identify more costeffective approaches to tackling ASB: to be able to quantify in terms of cost what works and what does not. Given the fluidity of ASB added to the growing expectations of residents and government alike, participants acknowledged this as not being the easiest of tasks.

As well as identifying the need for clear policies, survey respondents and workshop participants also placed a significant emphasis on the need to better involve residents and complainants in approaches to tackling ASB. As before, the range of approaches was broad but some of those participating spoke of ‘victim support’ programmes as well as activities such as ‘buddying’, where complainants are supported by other residents who have been through ASB experiences. Practitioners also recognised the value such approaches have in ensuring complainant outcomes remain realistic. This type of approach was thought to be particularly useful for complainants who might require judicial or court action to bring about resolution. However, it may be even more relevant for the large category of ‘low level’ ASB where realistically there is little that the landlord can do alone but there is much that residents and landlord can do through co-production. Co-production would involve letting go of some data protection protocols associated with the judicial approach and supporting residents to resolve issues locally. Other participants discussed how a ‘victim support promise’ ensured that complainants were clear on what was on offer at the same time as being made aware of what might be required of them. Without complainants and others being involved, most participants felt that the task of addressing ASB was harder. As noted earlier an essential first step for a co-production approach is an early triage of cases to identify those where there is a good chance of management/enforcement action from those where more community based remedies are likely to offer the best promise of resolution. In the latter cases a more open approach to information sharing and steps to empower communities to resolve problems seem the most promising strategy. The majority of participants agreed that for too long their respective policies and approaches had also placed too great an emphasis on the alleged perpetrator. Some of those participating spoke about how they had begun to re-focus approaches by placing the complainant at the centre.

Peabody policies and approaches As noted previously, the findings from this section are not ‘Peabody-specific’. Nonetheless, some interesting findings did emerge from the discussions not least the acknowledgement that when responding to ASB, some participants were willing to acknowledge the inflexibility of some housing providers in terms of their approach. As one participant put it, some approach the issue of ASB from the premise of: ‘This is our policy, this is how we respond to it...’. Due to the fluid nature of ASB, such an approach was deemed to be unsatisfactory. Instead, participants agreed that ASB policies and approaches needed to embody flexibility given the complexity of ASB, both in terms of manifestation and response. Good policies and approaches identified by participants included the need to have a clear policy and to clearly communicate this to all residents. For complainants, there was the need to have an action plan agreed and to have the relevant IT available with which to facilitate case management and build a database of evidence about the scale and prevalence of ASB incidents. 21


For some, there was the recognition that what worked best was the involvement of residents even before incidents of ASB had been reported. In other words, preventative approaches were also extremely useful. Across the participants, a wide range of different preventative measures were identified as already having positive impact. From homework clubs to sports and music programmes through mentoring and parenting courses to other schemes that seek to ‘inspire change’; encouraging young people to participate in activities that develop self-confidence and social skills. Underpinning all of these, practitioners saw the issue of ‘taking responsibility’ as being extremely important.

the role of frontline staff working to resolve ASB complaints, most of the participants held the perception that some within community and mental health teams remained unsure about the extent to which sensitive information could – and should – be routinely shared. Housing providers acknowledged the need to show greater accountability and to build the relationships of trust necessary. One suggested approach was through service level agreements which help to standardise and formalise processes and approaches and thereby ensure that all of those working collaboratively understand their individual and collective responsibilities.

What is needed to address ASB

The involvement of other partners

To tackle ASB, participants reiterated the need for more to be done: to better understand ASB through improving definitions and agreeing as to what what it is and is not; as well as improve understanding of how it impacts individuals and communities. Recognised as being key to this was the issue of definition and the need for a sector wide ‘homogenised’ definition. However, practitioners were keen to stress that this was far from suggesting that there was a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ‘solving’ the problem. Instead, a multiplicity of approaches was required that acknowledged the different types of problems and solutions encompassed by the umbrella term ASB. There was also the recognition that as tackling ASB was now a core part of the housing sector’s remit, this was not something that should be seen as an ‘add-on’ but as a prominent feature of the role of housing providers for the foreseeable future at least.

The need for practitioners to work collaboratively with external partners – local authorities, police, and community health teams amongst others – was identified as being a priority. This was particularly crucial in terms of sharing data and information. Whilst some good developments had already taken place, participants recognised a lack of consistency with some housing providers being able to make better sharing networks than others. For those such as Peabody, where housing stock went across a number of different local authorities, this was seen to be particularly problematic. As they explained, information sharing on one estate could be effective whereas an estate on the opposite side of the road could be significantly different. The only determining factor would be that one estate would be in one local authority, the other in another. Because of this, the application of ASB policies as well as the type of support provided to complainants as indeed the outcomes could be widely different solely because of the location of the estate or property. One participant discussed how their housing provider had deliberately focused on fewer geographical locations to minimise this type of impact but such an approach would not be suitable for all.

There was consensus amongst participants of the need for residents to be more involved, in terms of resolving ASB complaints but in preventing ASB also. Successful community-centred approaches would need to incorporate elements of community building, community engagement and self-help as well as being more responsive to emergent issues and trends. Consequently, there was a consensus amongst participants that greater and continued investment was necessary. The view was that the greater the investment in residents, the greater the impact in tackling ASB. This was contextualised however. Given the climate the housing sector is currently working in, particularly where budgets are likely to reduce, developing and implementing more preventative approaches were seen as being key to reversing current trends and seeing ASB complaints reduce. Cost-effective approaches were therefore deemed highly important. There was widespread agreement amongst participants that community prevention and diversion programmes were therefore more important than ever and that even within the current economic climate, investment must continue.

Some of the participants had begun to work with external agencies and had begun to establish secured IT systems through which information could be shared quickly and efficiently. Multi-agency collaboration was seen to be integral to the success of these although again, many acknowledged that it was more difficult to gain the ‘buy-in’ of some external agencies from others. Another way of working effectively was seen in the co-location of external agencies with housing providers. One explained how its ASB team had co-located with local police officers that had resulted in an extremely positive impact in tackling and reducing levels of ASB. Others welcomed this and spoke about how ‘co-location’ arrangements across multiple agencies had the potential to have an extremely beneficial impact for all concerned, especially complainants.

In terms of resolution, participants agreed on the need to move towards early intervention. Participants identified how early interventions that bring people face to face and that intervene to ensure that problems ‘don’t fester’ bring about the greatest levels of resolution and satisfaction. Such approaches also place greater emphasis on supporting the complainant rather than the alleged perpetrator.

Where obstacles to multi-agency working had been encountered, there was recognition of the need to find strategies to overcome these. Participants spoke about the need for greater trust amongst different agencies, especially those which held personal and sensitive information about individuals. Whilst such information would greatly support 22


PART 2: Focus group participants

In line with the National Policing Improvement Agency’s National Standards for Incident Recording, one such approach was described as the ‘PEN system’, where complaints are identified as being:

This section outlines the main findings of three focus groups with Peabody residents to explore participants’ views, perceptions and experiences of ASB. It is important to reiterate that these views cannot be assumed to be representative of all ASB victims/complainants living across Peabody estates.

• P – Personal • E – Environmental • N - Nuisance

The nature and impact of ASB

Once identified, the participant spoke about how processes and plans can be more effectively put into place to resolve the problem. Such an approach was suggested as going against existing traditional ‘process-driven’ approaches in order to better categorise the type of response required in order to not only resolve the complaint but so too support the complainant.

Initially, participants were asked to define ASB and to describe their experience of incidents of ASB on their estates, including its impact. The main types of ASB which were discussed within the groups were: noise related incidents; intimidation; pet and animal nuisance; prostitution; drug and alcohol related incidents; misuse of communal areas, for example, the congregation of young people or adults (mainly non-residents) occasionally causing vandalism and damage to estates. Also discussed, but not at a length, were garden nuisance and littering. Set out below are the main issues identified by participants.

Improving victim response and case management was also acknowledged as requiring greater scrutiny. New approaches might be developed to focus to promote greater levels of self-help as well as resident-driven mediation. Whilst acknowledged as being most suitable for low-level types of ASB, participants spoke of a real value in helping residents find new ways to ensure they ‘rub along’ together without needing to involve housing providers or specialist ASB teams. The benefits of such an approach would reduce workloads but more importantly, it would empower residents to respond and hopefully resolve ASB incidents themselves at source. A development of this was the suggestion that housing providers might train and support the development of ‘resident mentors’, individual residents who could step in and offer mediation at the local level when necessary. Focusing resources into this type of training was keenly received with participants seeing it as having wider impacts beyond the tackling of ASB alone.

Noise One of the most common types of ASB identified by participants was noise nuisance, including those individuals deemed to be merely inconsiderate, for example, young people living next to older residents. One topic relating to the noise issue that was of particular concern to most participants was that of wooden and laminate floors. One resident explained that: ‘...hard flooring is a big issue with a lot of people because the ones above you walk around with shoes; drop things, bang, this that and the other, and you cannot talk to them about the problem. (Female participant, Group 2). Some participants believed that such flooring was against Peabody regulations, and as should be readily and easily dealt with if ‘Peabody could be bothered’. This perceived issue of Peabody not enforcing its own policies was returned to repeatedly during all the focus groups, with a variety of individual examples being given¬ at different stages of the discussion. This suggests the need for better communication so that both residents and staff share an understanding of the remedies available for different types of ASB.

There was also the recognised need for residents to be involved in setting priorities and monitoring responses. This might include housing providers meeting more regularly with residents associations and community groups to not only improve knowledge and understanding about ASB but to set priorities. Such outreach activities would promote a greater understanding of what the barriers to supporting and working with housing providers might be as perceived by residents and complainants – of victimisation, discrimination or retribution for instance. Likewise, it would go some way to reducing unrealistic expectations and challenging exaggerated perceptions of the scale and prevalence of ASB.

Dogs The issue of dogs was also consistently identified as being problematic. Concerns included the number of ‘dangerous’ dogs, the lack of adequate control by owners, and their use to intimidate other residents and association with gang activity, as well as more general issues such as dog excrement in communal areas and excessive barking.

Finally, participants reiterated the need to improve collaboration with police and community safety teams. As with the previous section, these could focus on improving data sharing arrangements not least through the development of secured IT systems. The co-location of multiagency partners, the improving of trust and accountability as well as the use of service level agreements were also identified as having the potential for positive impact.

Most of the participants believed that owning a dog whilst living in a Peabody property was against their regulations. Whilst this perception was seemingly inaccurate, those same participants acknowledged the difficulty in enforcing the policies relating to dog ownership.

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These included, for example, how residents with dogs were perceived to routinely deny owning them or claimed to be looking after the animal temporarily:

Following the confrontation he had felt compelled to move out of his accommodation and was currently sleeping on the sofas of various friends. Whilst issues relating to gangs, drugs and alcohol might always be interlinked, there was a clear conflation between these by participants.

‘I had an estate manager come back and say to me that the dog does not belong to her [tenant] but belongs to her mother while she is away on holiday for a fortnight’ (Male participant, Group 2).

Prostitution Other concerns raised by participants included prostitution. Whilst this issue is clearly a criminal matter and might be deemed as needing a ‘high level’ response from Peabody and the police, for many of the participants it was the indirect consequences of prostitution that caused the most difficulty for them. For example, the congregation of significant numbers of people on estates and in stairwells and the volume of visitors to certain addresses constantly throughout the day and night created the potential for violence and confrontation and therefore a sense of danger for the participants and their families.

‘...you go and tell them [that] you are breaching the tenancy agreement and they say: “it is not mine it is my girlfriend’s [dog]”... [but] they have been looking after the dog for ten years!’ (Male participant, Group 2). Other participants claimed to find it difficult to report such incidents as ‘they do not want to be responsible for having the dog put down’ (Female participant, Group 2). Gangs, drugs and alcohol Gang activity was also spoken about by participants in terms of its association with drug dealing, violence, threats, intimidation and bullying. Linked to this was the issue of drug use on the estates, including public drinking and subsequent rough sleeping. The issue of vomit and urination in stairwells, corridors or other communal parts of the estate was also discussed on a number of occasions by many participants.

It should be noted that gang and prostitution activities were not necessarily perpetrated by Peabody residents alone. Indeed Group 1 suggested that much of the ASB was caused by those living outside Peabody’s estates rather than residents. Providing an example of this, participants spoke about how people living in a nearby hostel were largely responsible for a number of different drink and drug-related issues on their estate.

‘This is every morning and practically in every staircase ... I could not even hold on to the handrail one hand because of the vomit and spit down the handrail’ (Female participant, Group 2).

The causes of ASB During discussions in the focus groups about the nature, types and impact of ASB, participants’ perceptions of the causes of ASB emerged. There were several issues that were identified by participants as making the problem worse, some of which were raised only fleetingly. Where this was the case, we have included these below along with a brief explanation where appropriate:

Most participants expressed concerns about the disruptive and threatening nature of these types of ASB. The use of staircases and estates by drug dealers and users was one of the most serious issues voiced by participants raising their concerns around safety. A few of the participants felt they were affected greatly by these types of ASB incidents and talked about their fear and worry and how this impacted on their lives. For example, one young person told us:

• Lack of enforcement of policies/tenancy agreements; • Slow or ineffective repair of security measures, in particular of gates and intercoms; • High turnover of Neighbourhood managers; • Lack of face-to-face communication/dialogue with Peabody staff; • The placement of tenants with troubled backgrounds or young people near older residents; • A lack of a sense of community; • Buy-to-let properties18 which were seen as one of the main reasons for ‘community disintegration’ and causing ASB related issues; • Lack of community centres/community investment, particularly on small estates.

‘I have not got the confidence to come out; I feel insecure basically’ (Female participant, Group 1). Residents repeatedly told us that they feel threatened and insecure and in one case one of the participants spoke of how he had confronting drug dealers who were using the stairwell adjacent to his flat when, he suggested, the police and Peabody had failed to act on the problem, despite having reported the crime on numerous occasions. His neighbour explained that, having confronted the drug dealers, ‘he feels terrified’ (Female participant, Group 2).

18. S uch flats were identified as usually being rented out or sub-let to people who did not engage with nor had little consideration for the community as a whole and it was suggested that owners of buy-to-let must be required to impose ‘special agreements to pass on to their tenants’.

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Peabody policies and approaches

Likewise, some participants responded that they had received letters saying they needed to ‘have more understanding’ and ‘tolerance’ of those about whom they had made complaints. This was seen to be particularly apparent where the alleged perpetrator was considered to be ‘vulnerable’.

As noted above, a reoccurring theme attributed as the main cause of many types of ASB was Peabody not enforcing provisions that they believed to be included in its policies and tenancy agreements. There was a general agreement in each of the focus groups:

Whilst the overall tone of the discussions regarding Peabody’s approaches to ASB was one of negativity and dissatisfaction there were two participants who said that they had positive experiences of the ways in which Peabody had approached and dealt with their cases. These same participants also added that they found it difficult to share these positive experiences in front of a group that largely consisted of participants with negative ones. These participants preferred to talk individually to the facilitator during the break.

‘People flagrantly go against the tenancy agreement and Peabody do nothing. It is a legal document and anybody who abuses or breaks it should be taken to court and their tenancy should be taken away’ (Male participant, Group 2). Participants perceived that: ‘This is why ASB escalates; because Peabody won’t act on their own policies’ (Male participant, Group 2). Most participants also voiced the opinion that they were dissatisfied with some of the practices of Peabody responding ASB. Participants frequently expressed a belief that there was ‘a lot of talk’, ‘letter sending’ and ‘logging’ of incidents, but felt that these practices did not produce any ‘real’ outcomes. For example, one participant stated that:

The involvement of other partners The discussions on the involvement of other agencies largely focused on the role of the police and the nature of their response to incidents of ASB. Most participants felt that there was a need for more police officers and community support officers to be ‘on the beat’, particularly at night. In general, the police were considered by participants to be ineffective when dealing with reported ASB cases and some participants made comments about officers being ‘too soft’ when responding to household complaints. There was also a concern expressed by participants about the envisaged reduction of police presence during the Olympics19 and the impact of this as a consequence:

‘They have got the current policy of issuing community diary sheets on [our estate]… when I have complained in the past I have just been given the diary sheets to complete after each incident, but then you can end up scrawling all the time. Then when you actually send them you wonder if they bothered to be read at all because a few weeks later you get a notice saying “I am going to close the case - are you happy with the way we have done it? Can you fill in this form for feedback?” But, I mean, between completing the diary sheet and getting the request for feedback on customer satisfaction you don’t know if those notes have actually being scanned properly to see if they have identified what the problem is’ (Female participant, Group 3).

‘I approached the neighbourhood team and said: ‘we need patrols throughout nights because this is when they [drug dealers/users] came in’; they never did any patrols’ (Female participant, Group 2). In one group there was a general feeling of distrust about the likelihood of the police responding to their ASB complaints effectively. The police and other agencies involved in participants’ cases were reported to be ‘good at giving advice’ and saying what they would do but most of the participants felt that they did not see any results or any resolution to their problems. For example, one participant explained that:

The need for consistent and on-going communication following a complaint was frequently noted. A small number of participants talked about the lack of face-to-face contact with members of Peabody staff. They considered this as a big barrier to effective communication and successfully tackling ASB: ‘We do not see any faces’ (Male participant, Group 1). There was a general feeling that Peabody was thought to be reluctant to deal with participants’ complaints, instead regarding complainants as ‘troublemakers’ if they made regular complaints. Some participants suggested that their reporting of ASB was not taken seriously and they felt that they were identified and treated as difficult residents. Some participants also described how they were warned after making regular complaints:

‘I called the police a few times about drug users, people calling names but the police have not done anything. But if they are not doing anything, who would?’ (Female participant, Group 1). Participants suggested that the police were rarely present on their estates and this was thought to be exacerbating the problems: ‘[there is] no authority here’ (Male participant, Group 1).

If you complain too many times, you get a warning letter’ (Female participant, Group 2).

19. The focus group activities took place prior to Olympics in June 2012.

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Residents’ action and responsibilities • More responsibility to be taken by residents in acting together and in dealing with ASB: such as not opening the gate/door of the building to everyone; closing gates properly; what and how to recycle so that rubbish management is easier on the estate;

It was widely agreed that more effective and intensive collaboration with other agencies, particularly the police, would be helpful in tackling the problems of ASB. Worthy of note was that from the focus groups at least, there was little acknowledgement of the wider range of different agencies and partners that collaborate and work with the housing sector.

Community investment • More educational opportunities to be provided to those taking up residence on the responsibilities and expectations of living in close proximity to others; • Greater community investment is needed; for example, some participants were keen on the implementation of activities and training that would help them acquire new skills such as First Aid and employment advice. Also, the creation of communal areas where some physical activities such as skating and playing football could take place;

What is needed to address ASB

In the final part of the focus group participants were asked to give their own views about how Peabody might reduce and deal with incidents of ASB more effectively. To begin the discussion, some ideas drawn from the practitioner’s survey and workshop were suggested to the focus group participants. The response was mixed; while some participants welcomed them with enthusiasm, others were sceptical as to whether they would make any difference to the issues they faced. A majority of participants in one of the groups also voiced criticism that some of these initiatives were already in place and had not produced any resolution for them.

Final observations In this section the views and perceptions of participants of the focus groups about ASB on the Peabody estate have been explored. They described the impact of ASB on their lives and made some useful suggestions for the agency as to how the problems may be tackled. Participants expressed considerable alienation from Peabody and its staff and strong feelings that more could be done to tackle ASB if the organisation chose to do so. Many referred to what they perceived to be gaps in both communication and information. Because of this, there appeared to be a lack of knowledge or understanding – at times – about what they perceived Peabody policies were and what the reality might have been. This clearly also fed the heightened expectations as to what the remedies and sanctions available to Peabody to tackle ASB might have been.

While there were contrasting views on the practitioner’s ideas, focus group participants were in overall agreement on what they thought Peabody should do to deal more effectively with ASB. These ideas are grouped together below: Neighbourood management • Greater enforcement of ASB policies and tenancy agreements; • Greater visibility and better face-to-face dialogues between Peabody and residents, for example, in one group the regular involvement of Peabody staff in local youth clubs was suggested; • More representation of residents, for example, on management committees and on the tenancy board as well as in the Peabody magazine; • Having physical spaces, for example, meeting rooms on Peabody estates to allow for residents to gather with each other and with Peabody staff to promote information sharing and support. Estate staff could also offer regular surgeries for residents at these venues.

It has to be recognised that the frustration and dissatisfaction expressed within the groups is unlikely to be felt by all Peabody tenants and is a reflection of the profile of those invited by Peabody to the focus groups and also who chose to come. However, for the participants more so than other stakeholders, the issue of ASB is a highly emotive and extremely personal issue which has a detrimental impact on the everyday experience of individuals, families, communities and organisations. It has the potential to damage individual, familial and community wellbeing as well as the relationships between all of these. For this very reason, it is vital that the personal, emotional, physical and organisational consequences of ASB are not underplayed or overlooked. Hearing first hand from victims and complainants of ASB, it is clear how damaging such incidents can be; to quote an often used phrase from the media’s coverage of ASB, lives can be made ‘hell’. It is also clear that fear of ASB can be as important a factor as experience of ASB in shaping landlord: tenant relationships around these issues. An effective responses therefore needs to take account of perceptions as well as realities of ASB

Peabody’s approach to resolution • Residents’ views and advice to be taken into consideration when making decisions and taking action to tackle specific incidents of ASB; • The importance of collective action when dealing with ASB incidents which affect a number of participants at the same time; • Constructive and supportive relationships/partnerships between victims/complainants and Peabody staff; • Having CCTV cameras and using CCTV footage as evidence to enable a quick and effective action/response to ASB; • Legal services and advice for residents who were faced with counter claims.

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PART 3: Frontline staff

From a procedural point of view, this was because the high-level incidents were deemed as posing a greater risk and/ or threat to the complainant, local residents or the estate community. It was also far more likely that high-level complaints would necessitate the involvement of external agencies, for instance the police, local authority and social services.

This section outlines the findings from engaging Peabody’s frontline staff. As with the importance of noting the sense of dissatisfaction expressed by some of those participating in the focus groups, there was also a sense of frustration evident amongst some of the frontline staff also: from not being to tackle ASB in the way they would like and in the constraints placed on them from the tools and policies available. Nonetheless, there was also a genuine empathy shown by frontline staff towards those experiencing ASB; not just with their situation but so too the impact ASB can have on their everyday lives. For those frontline staff engaged as part of this research, that sense of empathy was shown to equally underpin what they do on a day-to-day basis as indeed the frustration expressed in not being able to do enough to resolve or tackle the realities of ASB.

From receiving complaints, frontline staff spoke about how they would normally speak with the complainants about what was typically needed to resolve the matter. From engaging with frontline staff, many perceived complainants’ expectations as being overly high and at times, unrealistic. Frontline staff felt that it was necessary to set out to complainants exactly what could be done, how long it might take, what this would normally involve and finally, what the likely outcomes might be. There was a recognised need to ensure expectations were not unduly raised and that there was ‘100% honesty throughout’. As another member of staff put it:

The nature and impact of ASB Peabody’s frontline staff unanimously agreed that the levels and ‘problem’ of ASB was on the increase. As many pointed out, this was evident in the rising number of complaints being made year on year as well as in the sharp growth in the number of employees working to tackle ASB. Of the frontline staff engaged, all believed that the perception of residents relating to the levels, scale and prevalence of ASB was much greater than the reality.

‘We need to remind [complainants] that once they’ve made the complaint, the complaint is still owned by them’. As another member of frontline staff put it: ‘We have to let residents and victims know that throwing people out is going to be a highly unlikely outcome’. Acknowledging the rising numbers of ASB complaints, frontline staff offered a number of explanations why they thought this might be. First, frontline staff believed that residents were increasingly reporting incidents which in their opinion at least were not ASB. Staff routinely recounted a wide range of different incidents and stories of incidents and complaints which in their opinion were far from ASB. When told by frontline staff that Peabody could not do anything about this, staff spoke about how complainants were typically unhappy. One member of staff explained that their sense of unhappiness was because the complaint had not been dealt with in the way the complainant wanted irrespective of whether incident was ASB or not. Whilst empathetic, one member of staff expressed their sense of frustration:

In terms of the nature of ASB experienced by Peabody residents, staff referred to the most reported ‘types’ of ASB: noise nuisance, harassment/threats, rubbish, dogs, drugs, loitering and vandalism. One member of staff described most of these being ‘all the little stuff’ while others described them as being ‘low-level’. In response to this type of complaint, staff explained how they typically respond, using letters and telephone calls in the first instance. Much of this was undertaken from an arm’s length position with face-to-face or ‘visible’ contact with complainants being minimal. For frontline staff this was appropriate given the vast majority of ‘low level’ complaints could be adequately resolved in this way. Again, where appropriate, staff would supplement letters and phone calls with home visits to both complainants and alleged perpetrators; to collect testimonies and evidence, monitor noise levels including instructing residents how to use recording kits, and supplying complainants with nuisance diaries amongst others.

‘Sometimes residents need to take a ride on the reality bus...if we took them to one of our estates where we’d found an AK-47 in the hedges, then they’d have a reason to complain and would understand’.

Alongside the ‘little stuff’, frontline staff also referred to incidents that they described as ‘high-level’. As one frontline member of staff explained, despite high-level complaints being less prevalent, much of their time was focused on:

It is worth stressing that this comment was said with tongue in cheek as a means of highlighting the magnitude of some of the ASB incidents they are regularly faced with. This informed some of the frustration that sometimes came to the fore. Whilst frontline staff wanted to support and resolve every ASB incident to the best of their ability, they also had to acknowledge that some were just not as important or pressing as others.

‘high level ASB...drug use, crack houses, prostitution, violence and assault’. Whilst frontline staff stated that the majority of reported incidents were low-level, there was a recognised need that high-level complaints needed to given greater importance and attention.

Some, in their opinions, were not even ASB.

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Second, frontline staff acknowledged how demographic and cultural changes in society – mirrored across Peabody’s estates - were impacting on the incidence and nature of ASB. As one member of staff explained:

‘If they get what they want, they give you ten out of ten [on the satisfaction survey]...if they don’t, they give you one out of ten’. Because of this, there was a clear disparity between what frontline staff feel complainants ‘want’ and what, in practice and from experience – frontline staff perceive ‘works’.

‘Today we have so many different values and belief systems...we don’t really deal with ASB a lot of the time, in the grand scheme of things it’s just lifestyles and the way people live. What we deal with are the idiosyncrasies’.

Those frontline staff engaged repeatedly spoke about the way in which complainants – and residents more widely – failed to understand and differentiate between what might and what might not be ASB:

Another added: ‘We don’t deal with ASB, we deal with lifestyle change’. Various members of staff gave examples to support this view: food smells, appearance, language and family size amongst others. Frontline staff perceived these as being indicative of the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse demographic of Peabody’s residents.’

‘People live in a way that they expect Peabody to resolve everything’. This was evident in the preceding section, but one of the key issues highlighted was of the broad and subjective definition of ASB preferred by Peabody. One frontline worker recounted an incident which highlighted this issue. They received a complaint from a resident which centred on a car that had been driven past a Peabody estate. As it did, the driver was alleged to have played music excessively loud. When asked whether the complainant had any information about the driver or the vehicle, the complainant said no. They went on to inform the member of staff that they also did not believe that the driver was a Peabody resident, nor had they ever seen the driver before. They added that they would not be able to recognise them again nor would they be able to collect details about the vehicle as it was going too fast. As that member of staff went on,

Linked to this also was the perception amongst frontline staff that many Peabody residents longed for ‘how things used to be’. This related to the types of people that lived on Peabody’s estates and the way in which Peabody staff used to be resident on its estates; on how caretakers and other staff used to be able to respond to incidents there and then. One frontline worker spoke about how they felt that Peabody’s residents wanted to: ‘go back to the old days...the halcyon days when the caretaker would live on the estate and give someone a clip round the ear if they were misbehaving’.

‘Peabody has made a rod for its own back...no matter what they bring to us, we have to deal with it even if it’s something we don’t deal with. We have to take responsibility and signpost...we’re not good at educating people about what is and what isn’t ASB’.

But as another added: ‘We haven’t removed the service of us being visible...it’s just changed’. They went on: ‘Residents want the reassurance of having someone there 24/7’.

For them, Peabody’s definition of ASB meant that they had to deal with lots of complaints they really should not have to.

This sense of residents wanting to be reassured ‘24/7’ was seen to underpin why frontline staff believed that there were ongoing calls for more CCTV, security gates, fences, community wardens and security staff.

For many staff, they held the view that residents had a ‘lack of education’ relating to Peabody’s policies. Because of this, one frontline member of staff spoke about how complainants come to them with the question:

One further minor issue that frontline staff highlighted as shaping the nature of ASB was how, at times, they were being asked to disentangle what they perceived to be genuine cases of ASB from personal disputes and arguments with former friends, family members or neighbours.

‘What are you going to do about it?’ They added that the involvement of complainants rarely went beyond that initial demand. Frontline staff spoke at length about what they saw as a recurring process: residents contact Peabody to inform them of an incident expecting an immediate response that will not only deal with the situation but most importantly for the complainant, for Peabody to deal with the alleged perpetrator in a swift and punitive manner. Staff spoke about how they felt that complainant expectations unduly focused on immediacy, visibility of action or response, punishment and by consequence resolution.

Peabody policies and approaches When questioned about the implementation of Peabody’s ASB policies, as one frontline member of staff put it: ‘Residents are only happy if they get want they want...[but] that might not be the thing that’s necessary or works best’. They went on to add that residents were not always satisfied with the role and actions taken or indeed the outcome:

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And as a number of members of staff engaged added, much of this was then framed within unrealistic timescales. One member of staff spoke about how residents expected Peabody to ‘evict, evict, evict’ whilst what was really needed in their opinion was ‘education, education, education’. For complainants, staff felt that there was a much greater emphasis needed from Peabody on educating them about the process, the tools available, the timescales involved and the likely – realistic - outcomes. If this was not done – and many frontline members of staff held the view that Peabody did not – then complainants and residents more continue to see eviction and other judicial measures as being the preferred – at times only - option for responding to and tackling ASB.

Some frontline staff questioned whether Peabody residents maybe have higher expectations than other social housing residents given the reputation and perception of the organisation. As one member of staff explained:

Given the high proportion of complaints relating to noise nuisance, some frontline staff engaged spoke about how they believed that Peabody’s policies had contributed towards making the problem worse. Some of those who engaged with complainants spoke about how they repeatedly made reference to the Tenancy Agreement as a means of resolving ASB. In the majority of cases, complainants spoke about how the Tenancy Agreement stated that residents should be able to live in ‘quiet enjoyment’. From the point of view of frontline staff, this statement caused confusion amongst residents. Whilst the ASB policy was quite separate, staff stressed their view that there was a real confusion about the relationship between the Tenancy Agreement and Peabody’s ASB Policy. This confusion resulted in some complainants using this ‘evidence’ of Peabody failing to enforce its policies. But so too ‘evidence’ of Peabody allowing alleged perpetrators of ASB to flout ‘the rules’. Because the Tenancy Agreement and ASB Policy were not joined up, frontline staff felt that this caused them problems not least because it meant that similar incidents could – at times - be dealt with in completely different ways depending upon whether it was deemed a tenancy or ASB issue. Frontline staff acknowledged that there was a real need for the two policies to be revisited in the hope of making them more effective and joined up.

‘....they’re now expecting us to deal with everything rather than just what our policies offer’

‘Peabody did very well in the 80s and 90s holding resident’s hands...we held people’s hands through change and we took responsibility away from them...our residents have been empowered because of that and with it they rejected responsibility. We’ve given them power but without the responsibility’. Because of this, the majority of frontline staff engaged felt that resident’s expectations were increasing. As one put it:

Most agreed that neither Peabody policies nor the legislation available to them from the wider sector and society could be successful in this respect. As one of those interviewed somewhat despairingly put it, at the moment: ‘ASB just cannot be resolved’. The issue of change was once again relevant to discussions. Given the policies of subsequent governments relating to social housing, it was apparent to frontline staff that Peabody - and other housing providers - would be increasingly required to home those living in socio-economic hardship, those from marginalised backgrounds in particular those from minority ethnic, refugee and migrant backgrounds, as indeed those with social, behavioural and mental health issues also. For many, the future was particularly bleak: ‘People just need to learn how to live with each other...how to talk to each other and get along’. Whilst not widely suggested, some of those engaged did speak about educating new residents on how to ‘get along’ with each other.

Frontline staff also believed that the legislative and policy tools and measures available to them were problematic not least because it hampered what they were able to achieve but so too meet the expectations of complainants. As one member of staff put it:

The involvement of other partners As before, high level incidents of ASB require more time and resource because they typically require the involvement of external agencies. In addition, such incidents are also likely to involve greater confidentiality and so feeding back information about how the case is developing to complainants can be extremely difficult and at times, truncated. Because of the longer response and resolution times, frontline staff also spoke about how it was highly unlikely that either they or external agencies would have an immediate or constant visible presence. This in turn was seen to be a factor that perpetuated the perceived view amongst complainants and residents that as an organisation, Peabody was doing nothing.

‘We need to say to [residents] let’s work together...show them the tools we have and then use them as a bargaining tool to get them onside’. This was seen to be crucial to success because the ‘tools and powers’ available – whether within Peabody or in the housing sector more widely – were never going to meet the expectations of complainants. ‘We have to let residents and victims know that throwing people out is going to be a highly unlikely outcome’.

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Despite this, frontline staff spoke about how they viewed resolution and satisfaction levels for cases involving external agencies as being good. In terms of the more high-level incidents of ASB, frontline staff spoke about a number of significant victories. These included the closing down of various properties that were being used as crack houses. Crucial to success was the working in partnership with external agencies including the police, local authorities, social services and community mental health teams. One example that was communicated focused on how street drinkers and drug users had been congregating in the vicinity of a particular Peabody property. While Peabody was able to address the issues relating to the usage of the property as well as those associated with the tenant, it needed the support of other agencies to ensure the wider problem was not only resolved but did not recur. For example, Peabody worked with the police to issue dispersal notices in the area, remove alcohol and drugs from those looking to congregate, and make arrests where appropriate. In collaboration with the local authority, Peabody was able to support the mobilisation of street wardens in the area, ensuring a visible presence to reassure local residents as well as providing professional evidence for both Peabody and the police should the problem return once more. As the frontline member of staff put it:

A number of frontline staff also spoke about the need for complainants and residents to be seen as ‘partners’. They recognised the need to work with complainants and residents in much the same way as the police and social services to monitor the problem, collect evidence and bring about resolution. Reiterating the point previously, frontline staff spoke about a perceived lack of responsibility being evident in the lack of ongoing support given by complainants beyond registering the incident with Peabody. Most frontline staff agreed that residents – especially those who had not been complainants - were unlikely to fully cooperate in collecting, collating and providing evidence about both alleged perpetrators and the incidence of ASB. Some gave examples of how despite Peabody providing the means to evidence ASB – for example, noise monitoring equipment and nuisance diaries – many did not use them. Two reasons were put forward to explain this. First, staff spoke about how residents did not want to be involved if the ASB did not impact them directly: ‘For the majority of people, it’s I don’t care...if it’s a problem with that resident, it’s not a problem for me; it’s got nothing to do with me’. Second, was the issue of fear, of reprisal attacks especially in relation to those high-level incidents relating to gangs, drugs and prostitution. Whilst frontline staff empathised with residents who feared such reprisals, there was also a sense of frustration:

‘This worked because of all the different things that each of us bring to the table...it’s not like any of us can just go in and nick people like they did in the old days’. This collaborative approach was not always successful however. Frontline staff acknowledged how there was a greater need to share information between external agencies and for that information to be much more rapid. For Peabody this was particularly problematic because its housing stock is spread across a significant geographical area. Accordingly, frontline staff had to deal with various different local authorities, few of whom had similar structures and services available. This was seen to present significant problems because it was not always clear what would be required of Peabody if information was needed from the local authority or in terms of what local authorities were prepared to offer. Because of this, the experience of complainants – and the response to incidents – could be inconsistent in terms of response, timescale and outcome. As one frontline worker explained, if you had two incidents reported that were largely the same but on two estates either side of a local authority boundary, what the two complainants experience could be wildly different. For them, this type of experience reinforced the view that Peabody and its frontline workers were incompetent and inconsistent. The only way to address this was – in the opinion of frontline workers - for local authorities and others to adopt standardised information sharing and partnership working protocols.

‘Residents have to actively participate in evidencing ASB...I tell them, you either give me this or I can’t do anything, we can only achieve this together’. As another put it: ‘They just don’t want to put their heads above the parapet...and why would they?’ Frontline staff spoke about how Peabody must reconsider the ways in which it supports and empowers complainants and residents in these circumstances. Likewise, they must also work with external agencies to ensure that any complainants and residents who do choose to work with them are reassured and given the necessary external support also.

What is needed to address ASB Despite one member of frontline staff bleakly observing that, ‘ASB just cannot be resolved’, frontline staff were positive about what could be done to better address ASB. The role of ‘education, education, education’ was paramount, in particular the need to better educate residents about what ASB is and what Peabody’s policies and approaches do and do not offer.

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Frontline staff spoke about what they saw to be an ongoing agenda in terms of social housing by subsequent governments. Because of this, staff highlighted how they believed it was likely that social housing providers would be increasingly required to provide homes for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised in society. Such groups and individuals might include people experiencing severe socio-economic hardship, those from minority ethnic, refugee and migrant backgrounds, as indeed others with social, behavioural and mental health issues each of whom might have different and at times competing priorities and needs. Many saw the future landscape as looking particularly bleak as they felt that social housing providers would also need to face the challenge of greater diversity and difference amongst its resident population, something that could cause tensions and conflict. One member of frontline staff spoke about how:

Interestingly, some frontline staff spoke about how in locations where CCTV and security gates had been fitted, not only had the levels of fear about ASB amongst residents risen but so too had the complaints of ASB also. For frontline staff, whilst visible measures were important – and indeed had a role to play in certain cases – there was also the potential for them to increase fear and thereby make the perceptions of ASB worse also. The issue of greater security measures highlighted the disparity which seemed to exist between frontline staff’s understandings of ‘what works’ in tackling ASB with ‘what residents want’. Frontline staff spoke about how Peabody was going beyond traditional approaches to explore more preventative measures also. As part of this, frontline staff spoke about the recent development of more communitycentred approaches which sought to incorporate elements of community building, community engagement, self-help and changeability, to understanding change as a means of dealing and responding to it. Frontline staff spoke about recent parenting courses for young parents which focused on self-help, bringing people together from different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds around a common issue. All hoped that the outcome of such initiatives would be a strengthening of community and a building of bridges between quite different people living in close proximity under similar circumstances.

‘People just need to learn how to live with each other...how to talk to each other and get along’. Whilst such a statement might appear throwaway, there was the recognition by some of the frontline staff of the value of giving residents ‘good citizen’ training. For them, explaining how to ‘get along’ and resolve problems between fellow residents was necessary and could make a big difference. This latter point was acknowledged as being important for frontline staff. One approach which seemed to offer significant value was mediation. A number of Peabody’s frontline staff explained how they have recently been trained in mediation techniques which have enabled them to work with both complainants and alleged perpetrators to bring about positive resolutions. The value of this is clear to Peabody’s frontline staff: complainants see that Peabody are actively responding and seeking to bring about a successful resolution to the situation. For frontline staff, such approaches recognise the highly personal and emotional nature of ASB. Likewise also, mediation offers a means by which Peabody and its frontline staff are able to work in partnership with complainants and residents more widely. As one member of staff put it, mediation offers a far more constructive means of ‘holding people’s hands’. There was the acknowledgement that mediation has its limitations, particularly in relation to high-level ASB but where appropriate, it would seem to be an approach that can be utilised with relative ease and has been shown to have a positive outcome for all.

There was also an explanation about how Peabody had facilitated various summer holiday programmes including a project run in collaboration with the London Fire Brigade to provide young people from different Peabody estates the opportunity to participate in a whole range of different physical and practical activities. Other frontline staff spoke about estate barbeques and a whole host of other similar events that they felt had a positive preventative impact. All felt that more of these type of activities would be beneficial. One such approach that many frontline staff identified as having an extremely positive impact was its recent approach to domestic abuse and violence. Having added a qualified domestic violence co-ordinator to the CST, many frontline staff spoke about how they were now able to combine approaches to tackle ASB and domestic violence at the same time. For residents who are or may be subjected to domestic violence, such an approach provides a means of self-help, engaging residents, complainants and victims alike whilst supporting the building of networks across residents. For frontline staff it also has benefits. As one worker explained:

Responding to the observation by one worker that ‘residents want the reassurance of having someone there 24/7’, frontline staff spoke about how complainants and residents seemed to want more CCTV, security gates, fences, community wardens and security staff. Of all of those engaged, only one frontline member of staff thought that this was a good idea. Instead, most frontline staff spoke about how CCTV and other similar security measures had little real impact in tackling and resolving ASB.

‘A complaint about loud noises accompanying sexual activity from a neighbour could also be evidence of domestic violence including rape or assault.’ Raising awareness was seen to be not only preventative but so too impacting in bringing about resolution. Exploring other similar combinative approaches was seen to have significant benefit and impact. 31


Chapter 4: Understanding the findings It is clear from the previous chapter that, amongst the different participants engaged, there are – at times - quite different views held and expressed about the perceptions and realities of ASB. Most notably, these relate to what ASB is, its nature and scale, what responses are needed, and what can and cannot be achieved in trying to resolve the situation. In some ways, this can be explained by the position of the participant – whether practitioner, complainant or frontline worker – in relation to the ‘reality’ of ASB, something that is shaped by their experience and the impact it has had on their individual and communal wellbeing. Because of this, tensions and frustrations were apparent throughout the findings. Yet beneath all of this exists a very real commitment from all those engaged: to the acknowledgement of ASB being extremely problematic and damaging; to the need to tackle ASB as indeed its causes also; and to work together to find new ways of addressing the problems. This, it might be suggested, provides a solid foundation upon which all of those involved can begin to work together to achieve realise these shared commitments.

Some of these are explored in more detail below.

To do so however, it is appropriate to think about what the research suggests the priorities are in consideration of tackling ASB. An indicative list might therefore include the need to:

Much of the evidence suggests that Peabody’s approaches focus on the issue of resolution: of resolving a specific incident as reported them by a complainant. All of the most reported types of ASB can be seen to have the potential for an immediate, ‘here and now’ impact: noise nuisance, harassment/threats, rubbish, dogs/animals, drugs, loitering, vandalism and so on. It is therefore unsurprising that focus group participant’s expectations are shaped by this. Consequently, there is a resonance between Peabody’s approaches to bring about resolution – and subsequently closure of the case - and the complainant’s desired outcome also. There is however also a disparity. For complainants, it would appear that whilst they want the best resolution in terms of outcomes, there would also appear to be a need for speed of resolution along with greater visibly and reassurance. For Peabody, it would appear to be about ensuring resolution through the most effective means available, a means that might not be immediate, visible and/ or reassuring.

As the research findings suggest, there was little evidence of there being a ‘one size fits all’ approach that would address all of the above needs at the same time as tackling the problem of ASB also. Existing approaches adopted by Peabody can be duly categorised as being either focused on ‘resolution’ or ‘prevention’. Whilst HouseMark prefer ‘early intervention’ and ‘enforcement’, some of Peabody’s approaches go beyond merely preventing the escalation of existing problems to the point at which enforcement action might be necessary. Indeed, Peabody’s ‘prevention’ approach has a far more long term focus, identifying and duly targeting a range of different social issues and factors that are perceived as having the potential to underpin the perpetration or likelihood of further ASB activity in the future. To understand these in more detail, this chapter uses these two categories to explore the approaches preferred by Peabody before considering other models for tackling ASB.

Resolution

• Articulate and communicate to a variety of different audiences what is and is not ASB, highlighting different forms as indeed different solutions; • Offer clarity regarding the ‘real’ picture to challenge the disparity between the views of focus group participants and frontline staff and encourage better two-way dialogue; • Try and minimise the impact of fear given how it is able to shape, inform and exaggerate perceptions of ASB; • Identify means for reassuring those affected by ASB; • Better evidence, recognise and subsequently communicate ‘what works’; • Invest in developing approaches to tackling ASB that are effective and cost-efficient; • Ensure that such approaches include those that have the potential for greater immediacy and visibility; • Encourage wider responsibility and ownership of issues relating to ASB incidents, resolution and prevention; • Facilitate and support greater collaboration and partnership working with external agencies, as well as complainants and residents more widely especially in terms of shaping resolution processes; • Consider demographic, social and political changes in society – paying particular attention to the rapidity and scale of change – and how these might impact the future of Peabody as an organisation and its responsibilities in relation to tackling ASB; and, • Ensure that the highly emotional and personal nature of ASB, its potential to detrimentally impact on the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and organisations alike, is neither underestimated nor overlooked.

It would seem that some of these complaints could be reduced at source, before they get to the reporting stage. While Peabody has developed a number of distinct policies to encourage prevention of specific common ASB issues the findings suggest that these types of complaints are most common. For focus group participants, there was the recognition that if Peabody was to enforce its policies more sternly, many of these complaints would not get to the reporting stage. Not only does this lead to a significant number of complaints, but so too creates a point of tension between residents and Peabody. Ensuring clear communication regarding the enforcement of these policies would have a significant effect on resident satisfaction with Peabody policies and reduce the number of complaints. With this in mind, some thought might be given over to the idea of appropriate communication methods: are some residents more comfortable with letters posted to them for instance or are electronic means increasingly appropriate for all? 32


From the findings however, once a complaint has been made, there is little evidence to suggest that Peabody’s approaches to resolution are not implemented swiftly. As well as beginning the process of undertaking telephone calls, sending letters and arranging visits to alleged perpetrators, residents and complainants, frontline staff would also begin to identify any support and additional resource needs, for instance the need for noise monitoring kits or nuisance diaries. At the same time, frontline staff suggest how they would begin to communicate about what was needed of all concerned in order to try and bring about resolution. Because of the broad nature of ASB however, no single approach would be preferred. Whether this was understood by focus group residents was unclear. Nonetheless, frontline staff would consider the complaint and respond accordingly, drawing on previous experience and the tools available to them.

Achieving this is not unproblematic. Having shadowed frontline staff, it was evident that whilst they begin to investigate complaints immediately, they were not always able to do this in a visible manner. Shadowing highlighted how frontline staff from CST were required to gather evidence, listen to and meet all of the individuals involved – including those from external agencies such as the police, social services and mental health teams – and then make further enquiries and investigations where necessary. So as not to unduly influence the investigation or escalate the problem, this was shown to need to be done in a nonconfrontational, non-accusatory manner, neither of which supported an overtly visible approach. Once the initial investigations have been undertaken, the value of an approach such as mediation is clear. For complainants, they are able to see Peabody actively responding, working towards resolution and by consequence, being visible, providing reassurance and acknowledging the personal and emotional impact ASB has on those involved. For Peabody, mediation requires the support and involvement of complainants, working in partnership with them to try and bring about resolution. Mediation is one way through which Peabody are able to provide a constructive approach to ‘holding people’s hands’. Of course, mediation has its limitations: it is unlikely that such an approach would bring about resolution of high-level ASB. But if used appropriately, mediation would seem to provide an approach that has benefits for all. If employed to positive effect, not only would this have the potential to contribute towards rectifying the disparity between perceptions and reality but so too would it provide a premise upon which to build further collaboration and buy-in from complainants and residents more widely.

Yet as the findings showed, different types of complaint were attributed with differing levels of importance. Whilst it might be argued that this is necessary, the findings from the research would seem to suggest that ‘high-level’ complaints were attributed with greater importance and resource. To reiterate the findings from the previous chapter, this was because high-level complaints were likely to require more time working with external partners and agencies, something which in itself was shown to be difficult and time-consuming. Consequently, there would not always be opportunities to bring about an immediate satisfactory resolution to such incidents. Peabody’s response would therefore be immediate albeit without necessarily being visible or reassuring. From the experience of complainants, the initial response might be the same: in the first instance, complainants were likely to receive a letter from Peabody irrespective of whether the incident related to a nearby ‘crack house’ or someone leaving litter in a stairwell. Whilst Peabody might differentiate between high and low-level incidents, this might not necessarily be communicated or explained to the complainant. For frontline staff, the focus therefore was rightly on bringing about resolution where the situation greatest needed it: resolution being the critical issue here. For complainants however, it might be that whilst they want resolution they also want – need? - a response that can be seen (visible), is immediate, and duly offers some reassurance.

Key to mediation is the placing of the complainant and ‘perpetrator’ at the centre of the response. As well as addressing some of the concerns raised by focus group participants, such person-centred approaches also circumvent the recognised weakness of focusing on ASB ‘types’, an issue practitioners identified as needing to change. Mediation is one approach that does this. Such a ‘personcentred approach’ focuses on the complainant, responds to them, recognises them as a partner, before empowering them to take responsibility and ownership of the complaint whilst working collaboratively towards resolution. In doing so, opportunities are provided for frontline staff to focus on the complainant as a partner and person - noting the highly emotional and personal impact ASB can have on individuals to not only work towards successful resolution but work with them to improve understanding about what can be done, how long it might take and what the likely outcome might be. Gaining greater buy-in through focusing on the person also has the potential for beneficial impact in the future, not only challenging the perceived unrealistic perceptions of the scale and nature of ASB but so too that Peabody as organisation wants to help and support complainants.

It is possible that this situation feeds into what were perceived to be the unrealistic expectations of residents as expressed by both frontline staff and practitioners. Such perceptions may therefore be rooted in ‘response’ rather more than ‘resolution’. This dilemma, while seemingly having the potential to confront frontline staff on a day-to-day basis, was not something which was explicitly acknowledged. Whilst Peabody’s starting point appeared therefore to be resolution, complainant’s start point appeared to be response. Even though resolution was the outcome all would want to achieve, the path getting there might therefore need to take into account the different needs of the different constituent partners.

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Focusing on the desire for resolution, Peabody can utilise such person-centred approaches to significant impact. Shifting this focus, enables approaches to be considered that understand the response that best serves the complainant to bring about resolution. This is not about wholesale changes to procedures and approaches – on the whole, the tools available will remain the same – but as mediation has shown, employing an available approach in a different way can be extremely beneficial and positively impacting. Doing so will support Peabody to address some of the concerns raised by focus group participants at the same time as addressing some of the frustration expressed by frontline staff. Immediacy, visibility and reassurance can be provided, complainants can be supported as partners, complainants and residents can take greater responsibility to work towards resolution, whilst expectations can be managed and kept realistic throughout. At the same time, the gap between ‘what residents want’ and ‘what works’ will be lessened.

At present, Peabody’s preventative approaches are widereaching. Such approaches range from the material - the installation of CCTV cameras, electronic gates and entry systems for example - through the diversionary – for instance, the facilitating of parenting classes and provision of summer activities for young people – to the educational – raising awareness of what might be seen to be ASB and what things come under Peabody’s ASB remit. Material preventative approaches tend to have immediacy and visibility and so have the potential to be welcomed by complainants and residents more widely. But as the previous HouseMark data shows, such approaches only bring about closure in a small percentage of all ASB cases. Diversionary preventative approaches – those which are typically also much more community-based – have very little visibility or indeed immediacy, designed and facilitated for future impact rather than in the here and now. Whether diversionary approaches will meet their long-term objectives remains open to question. In the short-term however, both practitioners and frontline staff believe that such approaches are having a positive impact and are committed to maintaining them. Educational approaches are more fluid. In recalling one frontline worker, there was a perceived need for ‘education, education, education’: to better inform residents as to what is – and is not – ASB, the tools available to tackling ASB, the process required, and the likely outcomes. Education is this respect can also be pre-emptive, educating residents about all of these elements of the ASB resolution process before individuals and communities have the need to become complainants. Once they do, as complainants they will be better informed and be able to differentiate such acknowledged problems as the difference between Peabody’s tenancy agreement and its ASB policy, something that was noted as being problematic in both of these policies present forms.

Further consideration should also be given to assessing the level of vulnerability of the complainant in order to ensure an appropriate response. Rather than an intervention based upon only the type and level of ASB being reported, an understanding of the specific needs and vulnerabilities of the complainant might suggest a greater speed and degree of response is appropriate. For example, where ASB might include an element of potential hate crime or where a complainant might display mental health difficulties, a heightened response might be required. Such an approach is currently utilised by a wide range of police forces in handling ASB complaints, and a number of screening tools have been developed. This is also the case at Peabody, who actively utilise the ‘Risk Assessment Matrix’ to identify and assess risk, harm and vulnerability in those reporting ASB.

Prevention

Approaches that seek to prevent ASB are quite different from those seeking to bring about resolution. For preventative approaches, the premise is to minimise the factors in the here and now that might exacerbate the conditions or causes of ASB in the future. In this way, such approaches are preemptive. With this in mind, it is necessary to ask the extent to which the conditions and causes of ASB are understood. As highlighted previously, practitioners widely acknowledged that more was needed to better understand ASB, and likewise, to better understand the causes also. Defining ASB once more becomes relevant. If ASB is elastic and fluid, to what extent are the causes of ASB the same for both ‘the little stuff’ as the high-level incidents? For instance, are the conditions and causes which lead to littering and prostitution the same? Assuming this is highly unlikely, preventative approaches will not to be able to tackle all types of ASB. Once again, no ‘one size fits all’ approach becomes apparent.

Whilst resolution approaches would appear to benefit from centring on the person – complainant or other – preventative approaches might similarly benefit by shifting the focus onto the community. Whether considering diversionary or educational preventative approaches, focusing on communities – whether in terms of certain identity markers such as ethnicity or religion, an estate or geographical location, or as Peabody residents in the broadest understanding of the term community – would appear to have the potential for significant positive impact. Doing so would ensure greater buy-in from individuals and communities would provide opportunities to engage in meaningful two-way communication, whilst working in partnership to hopefully prevent future ASB. One important aspect of this might be to consider how Peabody communicates with increasingly complex diverse communities.

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As Simon Yau explained in the practitioner’s workshop, successful community-centred approaches need to incorporate elements of community building, engagement, self-help and changeability, understanding change as well being given support as to how best deal with it20. From Peabody’s existing diversionary approaches, all of these are present. For instance, the parenting programmes have included a focus on self-help, bringing people from different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds together around a common issue to engage them.

Recent social media applications have also involved the sharing of face images of perpetrators to enable residents to share intelligence in managing ASB locally (source: Nexters Young Social Entrepreneurs event November 2012) To do this, some further investigation is required: Peabody will need to gain an understanding of the levels of accessibility to the internet amongst its residents, the types of activity engaged in, and the levels if use and importance attributed to this. Such research could be undertaken using online questionnaires and other electronic means including piloting Facebook pages and groups or Twitter feeds where feedback is asked of ‘fans’ or ‘followers’.

Intended outcomes include strengthening the notion of community and building of bridges between different people. Similarly with Peabody’s various summer holiday programmes its barbeques and other estate events also.

Social media sadly does not offer a ‘one size fits all’ solution to any communication challenge as there will be some who for a variety of different reasons, either do not use electronic and social medias or merely do not like them. With this in mind, any communication and education strategies will need to necessarily be mixed-method. Engaging with residents might still require some face-to-face interaction as indeed posters, leaflets and paper-based newsletters for example. However, Peabody might want to consider the extent to which it can utilise social media to target those residents and communities that have traditionally been ‘hard-to-reach’, are relatively new and unknown or who are perceived to be more susceptible to social media. For example, younger residents might prefer to be communicated with via social media as opposed to older residents who might prefer paper-based methods. Likewise also, those residents who are working full time and are unavailable during the day or who do not see Neighbourhood Managers for instance, might benefit from being communicated with electronically. In exploring the use of social media, it is worth bearing in mind three important issues. First, stereotypical assumptions cannot be made about different ‘types’ of residents. For instance, it would be wrong to suggest that all young people would prefer to be communicated with via social media and that all older residents would prefer something more traditional. Usage is individual and so mixed-method approaches should be made available to all thereby improving choice. Second, despite the immediacy of ‘tweeting’ and using other forms of social media and networking, there is a need to ‘build’ social media: a single tweet will not reach a wide audience on its own. Instead time and effort has to be invested into social media to enable profiles, networks and sharing to be built and established. As such, communicating via social media should be seen from the outset as a medium term initiative. And finally, much of social media is ‘lost’ or overlooked by users. As such, social media and other forms of electronic communication should be seen as being one part of a much broader mixed-method institutional approach.

Some of Peabody’s preventative approaches relate to Yau’s community-based model in different ways. For example, its approach to domestic violence has enabled Peabody to raise awareness of domestic violence both with its frontline staff as indeed its residents also. For those experiencing domestic violence, such a programme provides support to victims, engaging them through newly created networks across Peabody’s estates. Likewise for frontline staff, such a programme ensures that when ASB incidents are reported, staff have additional skills available to them. As one frontline worker explained, a complaint about loud noises accompanying sexual activity from a neighbour could be evidence of domestic violence including rape or assault. This type of community-based preventative approach therefore is not only preventative - in that it communicates that domestic violence is unacceptable - but so too does it have a value in the resolution process also. Peabody can also use the data it collects in addressing things such as domestic violence to better evidence and communicate to residents ‘what works’. How Peabody communicates and duly educates is problematic however. Already the organisation has a variety of different – and clearly written - leaflets, web pages, newsletters and magazines which highlights issues relevant to ASB. Getting the message to the people especially those who might need it most is far more difficult. At present, using social media is being explored to evaluate the extent to which this might improve or broaden communication and engagement. At the present stage, this work remains at the development stage. However, this provides an opportunity for Peabody to consider what it wants to achieve through developing a greater social media profile. Might Peabody wish to use social media to present an alternative face to the one communicated through posters, leaflets etc or would it be looking to use social media to communicate the same things? A significant opportunity presented by social media is the ease with which different constituent groups and communities can be easily and effectively targeted.

20. S. Yau (2012) “Ruling out trouble: unacceptable behaviour and its control in Hong Kong’s public housing”, Habitat International, 36(1), 11-19.

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More impacting short term approaches might best consider alternative ways of promoting preventative education: educating about ASB when new residents are allocated a property; combining the ASB policy within the Tenancy Agreement; engaging in a specific ASB awareness programme. The ways in which these messages are joined up will be crucial to the success and impact of any educational preventative approaches.

Conclusion

Existing Peabody approaches to tackling ASB seem to fall into two categories: resolution and prevention. Each approach has both positive and negative impacts. Resolution approaches focuses on the immediate and responding to complaints in the here and now; prevention approaches focus on the medium to long term and focuses on seeking to improve the future experience and wellbeing of Peabody’s residents. Whilst resolution approaches tackle the need of residents for an immediate and visible response, prevention approaches highlight how Peabody is trying to do something not just today but for tomorrow also, making a firm commitment to tackling ASB. Collaboratively, resolution and prevention approaches can be used to improve understanding about ASB, to not only educate residents – before and at the time of becoming a complainant – about the limits of ASB and the processes associated with it, but so too about ‘what works’. Through both resolution and prevention, residents can be encouraged to become partners, to participate in the identification of solutions, to take responsibility, have ownership and work with Peabody and others to improve the situation whether contemporarily or otherwise. But with this comes the challenge of evidencing and justifying such approaches, not just in terms of organisational budgets but so too in terms of residents’ perceptions. To do the latter, good communication is imperative, needing to identify the means through which residents are aware of the immediate responses and actions being taken as indeed the way in which diversionary activities are having impact and changing things for the better. Whether resolution or prevention, the need to ensure that the complainant, the person, the individual or the community is placed at the centre of such approaches is paramount which might mean that Peabody – as indeed others – have to review the amount of data and information they are prepared to share with residents who are affected by ASB. Failing to do so will insist that little change occurs, where the focus on types of ASB or the processes associated with addressing them will take precedence at the expense of the people for whom the impact and effect of ASB touches upon their personal and emotional wellbeing. This is why the refocusing of approaches to ASB is necessary. In the following and final chapter, a series of recommendations are set out that are informed by the findings of chapter three and the analysis of chapter four.

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Chapter 5: Recommendations b. Agree detailed action plans with complainants (this may take the form of a resolution contract agreed with the complainant, clearly specifying what Peabody will do and what the complainant will do themselves and what actions could be taken by the wider local community); c. Explore more responsive communication techniques including making more frequent contacts with complainants; d. Consult residents and consider their views and advice when making decisions and taking action to tackle specific incidents of ASB which are affecting a block/ neighbourhood; e. Promote the use of collective action and community-led solutions when dealing with ASB incidents which affect a number of participants at the same time; f. Neighbourhoods could each be allocated a small fund to support community-led solutions to local ASB issues. g. Follow-up calls, possibly by (CST) administrators, soon after the case has been closed, to check complainant satisfaction with reference to the agreed action plan (keep in-house rather than delegate to an outside agency).

These recommendations are brought together from ideas collected through the focus groups, the discussions with frontline staff, the roundtable event and from more general literature about ASB. This recommendation chapter is relatively brief as the underpinning philosophy and approach towards resolution and prevention is explored in considerable depth in the preceding chapter. Some of these recommendations may already be in place as part of Peabody policy and practice; it was not within the remit of this research project to document the detail of Peabody’s ASB procedures therefore it was not apparent to the research team the extent to which the suggested measures are already in operation. Peabody may wish to consider these recommendations in order to determine those which are already in place and working well; those which suggest current practice needs refinement and/or better communication to tenants and those which Peabody may wish to consider implementing in the light of available resources in the short and longer terms.

Tackling ASB through a victim/complainant-centred approach

2. Case management –clarity, purpose, responsive and empathic Practitioners need to have a good understanding of risk assessment and vulnerability and how to use mediation techniques in order to work effectively with both perpetrators and complainants of ASB. The emphasis is one of demonstrating empathy and understanding of the impact of ASB on individuals and communities:

Peabody may wish to adopt a more victim/complainantcentred approach through improved communication particularly by meeting face-to-face with victims/ complainants to establish what can and cannot be done at an early stage, to agree how victims/complainants will be informed and to enable community resolution of types of ASB that are less amendable to management enforcement action. Other recommendations under relevant subheadings as follow:

a. Peabody to consider how it categorises ASB in particular the extent to which some types of ASB might be better responded to using other policy or practice pathways, for instance in relation to tackling noise nuisance where mediation may provide a more appropriate response; b. Peabody to provide professional training for ASB investigators/officers particularly around mediation techniques; c. Assess the specific needs and risk/ vulnerability of a complainant in order to inform the level and nature of response (this assessment will inform the work agreed with the complainant 1a above). Be able to communicate the assessed level and nature of the response to the complainant; d. Be more victim-focused in resource allocation and identifying responses to cases (e.g. putting restorative justice in practice), ensuring, wherever possible, a visible response; e. Provide an out-of-hours hotline (for information and reassurance phone calls) f. Make more use of parenting facilitators to work with families where children’s behaviour is causing issues locally; g. Provide legal services and advice for residents who are faced with counter claims.

Direct work – resolution 1. Face-to-face work – visible, responsive, realistic and reassuring The emphasis here is to promote early intervention to avoid the problem escalating, to manage expectations and to provide re-assurance that complainants’ concerns about ASB are taken seriously. Part of the challenge is to try to resolve the issue in hand, demonstrate visibly that action is being taken whilst discouraging residents from developing an undue sense of fear and alarm as to the level and frequency of ASB locally. Practitioners also need to ensure that complainants gain a realistic understanding about what Peabody can/can’t do and the part they themselves can play in resolving the issue and be provided with support and resources to do this. The most effective time to gain feedback about complainant satisfaction is when a case has just been closed and this is useful information for Peabody to gain in terms of demonstrating effectiveness of service. Suggested actions: a. Introduce ‘triage’ system to identify at an early stage types of ASB and available remedies to distinguish cases where a legal action route is the most appropriate from those where more community based solutions have the greatest potential. An early decision is important since it has implications for resourcing and sharing information with residents. 37


3. Education – tenant empowerment, good citizenship and local solutions The aim here is to develop resources and responsibility within communities; building on what is sometimes referred to as ‘good citizenship’ training. Practitioners can challenge exaggerated perceptions about the scale and prevalence of ASB by encouraging self-help, neighbour support and local responses. Suggested actions:

use, street drinking. Collaboration across agency boundaries requires local investment to build trust, confidence and a shared commitment to the neighbourhood. Suggested actions: a. Share information through multi-agency ASB meetings or share data via a secure IT system among agencies (with the same database accessible by all work partners). This might be facilitated by developing a protocol about information sharing which is supported by inter-agency training addressing what can and cannot by shared; b. Promote and contribute to more accountability and trust between agencies, for example, through shadowing activities; joint training and working together on shared projects; c. Consider co-location of multi-agency partnerships including the police; d. Encourage greater involvement of mental health services to provide more support to residents with mental disorders to enable them to maintain their tenancies; e. Ensure the police deal with ASB that is criminal in nature, for example, drug dealing and prostitution.

a. Set up various victim/complainant support schemes (Victim Support ASB Champions, Victim Support Promise). For example, developing ‘buddy’ support for residents experiencing ASB by those who have been through the court process (This would need to include a CRB check for the ‘buddy’ and using a consent form with the victim to allow for name/address to be shared. This would not include the sharing of sensitive data); b. Promote self-help by the residents (for low-level ASB), for example, by talking to neighbours about issues of concern; c. Set out clearer guidance on tackling noise nuisance, for example, collecting evidence, keeping diaries, use of noise monitoring equipment and talking directly where possible and appropriate with neighbours; d. Introduce local tenant mediators and promote the use of mediation; enable constructive and supportive relationships/ partnerships between victims/ complainants and Peabody staff; e. Encourage more responsibility to be taken by residents in acting together and in dealing with ASB such as: collecting shared evidence; not opening the gate/door of the building to everyone; closing gates properly; what and how to recycle so that rubbish management is easier on the estate; f. Provide more educational opportunities to those taking up residence on the responsibilities and expectations of living in close proximity to others. Tenants do not always demonstrate the art of ‘rubbing along together’ particularly when tenants are living in close proximity to others who may well be from different cultures. It may be appropriate to create a leaflet to accompany the tenancy agreement (which the neighbourhood managers discuss with new tenants) which explains tenants’ responsibilities; g. It might be helpful to explain the meaning of the term ‘quiet enjoyment’ being that of ‘living within the property without disturbance from the landlord’ rather than a guarantee of peace and quiet! h. Raise awareness of domestic abuse, good parenting and ASB through bringing in parenting facilitators/domestic abuse specialists to provide programmes and education about these issues.

Tackling ASB through a community-centred approach Peabody may also wish to adopt a more community-centred approach to prevention encouraging community building, community engagement, self-help and the capacity to change. The recommendations for this section are also categorised under subheadings.

Neighbourhood and estate management – prevention 5. Review of policies and housing stock A recurrent theme from residents is that ‘Peabody does not enforce its policies’; this may be a misunderstanding of the policies or an observation of practice but either way it promotes a sense of alienation and grievance towards Peabody which requires attention. Suggestions include: a. Review of Peabody policies, ensuring that they do not promote unrealistic expectations as to what Peabody can/will do. This needs to include the current Tenancy Agreement used with residents. (If altering the tenancy agreement is not advisable then an accompanying leaflet to go with it, as described in 3.f.) Thereafter, Peabody needs to enforce its policies and tenancy agreement to encourage considerate behaviour; b. As noise is the one of the most significant issues causing conflict between residents it may be appropriate for Peabody to institute a sound minimisation strategy upgrading sound insulation between properties; c. Focus on fewer geographical areas (e.g. through stock rationalisation); d. Implement CCTV cameras on estates where ASB is experienced on a regular basis and use CCTV footages as evidence to enable a quick and effective action/response to ASB (though it has to be recognised that this can induce a heightened sense of fear and worry about the prevalence of ASB).

Multi-agency work – resolution 4. Improving collaboration with police, community safety teams and other agencies The emphasis here is to get greater ‘buy-in’ from external agencies about the contribution they can make to ASB arising from, for example, mental disorder, problematic drug 38


Community investment – prevention

6. Visibility of Peabody and communication with tenants In order to promote a greater sense of partnership between Peabody and its residents the following measures may help : a. Provide greater visibility of neighbourhood managers through a clearer statement of who is in charge of their estate and how they can be reached, for example, on notice boards, newsletters and Peabody websites; b. Neighbourhood staff could also offer regular surgeries for residents at local venues and occasionally appear at youth clubs or other social groups; c. Produce regular newsletters to inform residents of new developments, changes in policies and Peabody’s success stories. Peabody needs to use mixed methods to communicate with residents recognising that whilst many young people prefer social media approaches, some older residents may still prefer traditional forms of communication. d. Undertake some research into the levels of accessibility to and usage of social media amongst residents. Seen as part of the mixed-methods approach previously, social media might present a number of new ways through which traditionally more ‘hard to reach’ residents might be engaged and communicated with. If there is investment in developing Peabody’s social media reach, it should not be seen as a short term approach as research shows that building networks takes time through the ‘snowballing’ process. 7. Resident involvement – visibility, increased responsibility and building networks The emphasis here is to build social capital and a greater sense of responsibility within estates. Initially this could involve some training and investment by Peabody building up commitment and competence to participate but the benefits could be significant. Suggested actions:

8. Financial measures Recognising the financial pressures that Peabody, as a housing provider, is facing at the current time it is important to look for other financial sources that could contribute to the improvement of the physical and social environments in each neighbourhood. Possible measures: a. Solicit more inputs from local businesses and larger organisations; b. Look for income sources (e.g. matching funds and EU etc.) for dealing with ASB; c Carry out cost-benefit analyses at the start and end of community investment projects to provide evidence of impact on ASB. 9. Community projects – building more networks and skills within communities This would require community investment but should generate benefits in the short and longer terms by enabling residents to learn skills that would help them with employment, improve incomes and fitness. It could build networks and provide social support within estates. Suggestions include: a. Promote more community projects mainly targeting at young people, for example, homework clubs, mentoring programmes, sports activities and music programmes, ‘inspiring change’ and visit programmes to encourage self-development and social skills to take responsibility or Pathways to Progress (P2P) youth intervention work; b. Provide more communal areas where some physical activities such as skating and playing football could take place. Also, provide more meeting rooms on Peabody estates to allow for residents to gather with each other and with Peabody staff to promote information sharing, parenting programmes and support; c. Implement activities and training to residents those in need of acquiring new skills such as First Aid, community gardening and employment advice; d. Widen the support to adults through vocational training and volunteering, providing working experience within housing organisations or with contractors.

a. Involve more residents in management committees and give greater representation to on the tenancy board as well as in the Peabody magazine; b. Involve residents in setting priorities and monitoring responses; c. Gather residents’ views in various venues such as Area Panels, resident forums, ASB forums, stakeholder meetings, welcome visits and community events, and also by means of postal survey; d. Introduce Estate Champions or Block Champions schemes; e. Develop a resident audit programme which uses trained resident inspectors to inspect their services in line with (former) Audit Commission methodology; f. Explore social media applications that may more directly involve residents in identification and evidence gathering and building safer neighbourhoods.

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Peabody 45 Westminster Bridge Road London SE1 7JB Tel: 020 7021 4444 www.peabody.org.uk JN: PUB_13_002

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Profile for Chris Allen

Supporting Peabody Communities: a fresh approach to antisocial behaviour  

Research report written by a team led by Chris Allen at the University of Birmingham. Chris Allen Kathryn Farrow Nathan Hughes David Mullin...

Supporting Peabody Communities: a fresh approach to antisocial behaviour  

Research report written by a team led by Chris Allen at the University of Birmingham. Chris Allen Kathryn Farrow Nathan Hughes David Mullin...

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