15 December, 2020
After months of consultation and fact-finding, the first ever meeting of the Housing Best Practice Partnership Network for West Yorkshire took place on Wednesday 9th December 2020.
The meeting was introduced by Mr. Mark Burns-Williamson (Police & Crime Commissioner) and chaired by Kate Jowett (Justice Advisor).
This joint initiative between the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner and Forbes Solicitors is designed to highlight the key role that housing plays when dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour and supporting vulnerable people in our communities as well as any barriers which may exist within the multi-agency, partnership arena.
The Network is open and inclusive to ALL agencies and anyone who can help to make a difference to the ASB case management process. This includes each of the Registered Housing Providers with properties across the region ranging from large national organisations to those with a local, support-based portfolio. The membership of the Network continues to grow. It currently consists of representatives from Police, Fire, Health, Local Authority Teams, Probation and the Third Sector.
The focus of the Network is very much about "getting things done" and achieving speedier, positive outcomes for victims of ASB. This meeting therefore provided a useful opportunity to hear directly from front-line housing practitioners about the work that they do and the challenges that they face, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Housing Associations in attendance unanimously acknowledged a significant rise in ASB reporting since March 2020 ranging from fly tipping to serious violent crime. This very interactive debate was able to highlight the issue of different reporting thresholds and classifications of ASB between agencies, how this can impact up the allocation of partnership resources, response times etc. Going forward, Network members will share ASB data from their own respective organisations relating to location (by ward / neighbourhood) and case type. This will enable us to identify any gaps or trends against the data held by West Yorkshire Police and this captures the true picture of ASB in the eyes of local people.
The Premises Closure Order is undoubtedly an effective tool for tackling ASB however Registered Housing Providers do not currently have the statutory powers with which to obtain these orders. The Housing Best Practice Partnership Network can therefore play a role in helping to facilitate a consistent regional approach, achieve clarity as to who leads i.e. Police of Local Authority legal teams and confirm what is expected of Housing Associations with regard to thresholds and evidence gathering. Darren Burton (Head of Housing Consultancy at Forbes) is going to set up a working group which can produce a report for consideration by the Reducing Reoffending Board.
The Network covers all aspects of Community Safety from high-level enforcement action to support and preventative projects. One of these projects will be developing links between Housing and the National Probation Service to identify specialist pathways for female and homeless ex-offenders to sustain tenancies and move forward with their lives.
A number of other regions are now exploring ways that they can potentially replicate the Network.
The next meeting of the Network is scheduled for 14th April 2021.
For more information contact Darren Burton in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01257 240827. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.