A new housing network in West Yorkshire has launched to boost community safety and address a rise in anti-social behaviour (ASB) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Housing Best Practice Partnership Network for West Yorkshire has so far brought together over 40 different organisations from across the region including registered providers, local authorities, emergency services, third sector groups, and probation services to tackle issues within social housing communities.
Organisations around the sector have noted a rise in ASB since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, including serious violent crime, domestic abuse, neighbour disputes and fly-tipping.
Members of the Network have agreed to share data surrounding ASB going forward and correlate this against information held by West Yorkshire Police.
Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for West Yorkshire, commented: “The Network was set up to drive greater collaboration between the social housing sector and many other organisations that all share a common goal of making communities better and safer places to live.
“The first meeting has already made progress in fulfilling the Network’s purpose and will see more informative reporting of anti-social behaviour across the region.”
The Network is a joint initiative between the West Yorkshire Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner and Forbes Solicitors and is open to all organisations interested in community safety.
The Network also aims to create a more regionalised approach to obtaining premises closure orders, which prohibit access to premises if they are being used to commit nuisance or disorder.
As housing associations do not have the statutory powers to shut down properties linked to anti-social behaviour, the Network believes that such an approach will better help registered providers to obtain orders quickly and stop problem behaviour from persisting in communities.
The Network’s first meeting last December also saw it agree to produce a report to promote a more joined-up approach to preventing anti-social behaviour. The report will be considered by the cross-ministerial Reducing Reoffending Board.
Darren Burton, head of housing consultancy services at Forbes Solicitors and leader of the report, explained: “The Network is working on a project that will develop links between social 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.
“This will enable communities to benefit from a more preventative approach towards anti-social behaviour and could help make better use of the time and resource of all the agencies focused on improving community safety.”
Hannah Saltonstall, ASB strategy manager (resolution team) at Stonewater, said: “For us, collaborating with other housing providers and agencies through the Best Practice Network will be key to our approach in supporting and making our communities feel safe.
“It provides an opportunity for everyone in the Network to share their experiences so that we can learn from one another about the key issues in different areas – exploring everything from fly-tipping to serious crime.
“Housing providers have a responsibility to support their customers as best they can and by working together through the Network, we can ensure that we are all working towards the same aim effectively.”
The Network is now working with organisations in other regions across the UK to help them facilitate the approach established in West Yorkshire. The Network will meet again in April 2021.