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The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are said to see anti-social behaviour as a “priority”, giving it a strong mention in the eagerly anticipated White Paper.
The revelations about the increased prominence of ASB in the White Paper came from Rebecca Bryant OBE, Chief Executive at Resolve, who was speaking at HQN’s ASB Week.
She said: “MHCLG are really working on the White Paper at the moment and are keen on ASB and mental health and complaints handling around ASB. They see it as a priority.
“Whether it is a KPI or not, the Regulator is going to come in and take a look at how you respond to ASB.”
Also in the session, Bryant covered the trends that she and her colleagues have seen since the start of lockdown.
“For most of the population, the virus meant that life got paused. But it didn't pause for us practitioners. We have seen a tsunami of ASB cases.
“In the first four weeks there was a 59% increase in ASB complaints. And that's just to the police, not complaints made to councils or housing associations. You could probably triple that.”
Resolve ran a series of surveys to try and better understand how ASB has impacted people during lockdown.
Among the figures was 30% of people saying ASB got worse since lockdown, 58% put it down to it being youth related and there was a huge amount linking it to mental health.
For example, Bryant said: “Because people were feeling more vulnerable during lockdown, with shielding etc, that has had a huge impact on complaints of ASB.
“If you are feeling vulnerable due to the virus, then that exacerbates the response. People's response to our YouGov survey highlighted how scared people were to be in their house and in their community.
“It is really important to take note of the mental health and how can we refer people to the right agencies. I think we have been in a perfect storm when dealing with ASB in lockdown.”
Among the trends witnessed during lockdown was the increase in alcohol consumption, and the fact that pubs closing meant “there was fewer restrictions on how much people could consume”.
She said partnership working was important when dealing with all cases, but especially during lockdown, with many ASB cases being “a precursor to more serious crimes”.
But Bryant explained that not all trends from lockdown are negative.
“There is a sense of community that wasn't there before lockdown e.g. WhatsApp groups for the street. As ASB Officers, we can tap into that.”
She also praised the work of many officers during the pandemic, saying they have been working incredibly hard in more stressful scenarios than in the past.
The Resolve CEO added: “Officers are feeling fatigued. We need to make sure officers feel supported and that managers and leaders recognise how stressful and difficult it has been.”