By Glenn Harris, CEO, Midland Heart.

Like most housing associations, Midland Heart experiences problems with anti-social behaviour (ASB). In far too many places across the country, the lives of the law-abiding majority are negatively impacted by the mindless actions of a few.

We all want to see our communities become places that people not only want to live but where local people and businesses want to invest and stay in, and where opportunities for all are equally created. To do this we must address anti-social behaviour head on and do more to support those organisations on the frontline of this work, including the police, local authorities, housing providers, community groups and charities.

The scale of the problem is significant. In an article published just before ASB Awareness week in 2021, research revealed that:

  • 12% of all the adults they surveyed had been a victim of ASB in the previous twelve months
  • 45% said it was a problem where they live
  • 59% of people who reported ASB were dissatisfied with the way it was handled whilst only 22 per cent were satisfied
  • 83% of people who had reported being a victim of ASB said more needed to be done to tackle it
  • 56% of people who were victims or witnesses of ASB did not report it.

Where serious ASB occurs, it can have a huge detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of our tenants and others in the community and the impact of ASB, often causes residents to move out to escape the problem, resulting in constant turnover in tenants and the potential for a spiral of decline.

It’s not only an important issue for tenants and communities, dealing well with ASB will be key to landlords meeting the requirements of the social housing white paper.

ASB is a key issue for the Regulator of Social Housing, the new Tenant Satisfaction Measures (including perception measures) contain questions about the number of ASB cases we deal with, as well as tenant perception of, and satisfaction with, our approach. Dealing with ASB effectively will be vital for landlords’ ability to comply with the new consumer regulations.

These are the reasons why Midland Heart has worked with Shaun Bailey MP to establish the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Social Behaviour.

The APPG will be chaired by Mr Bailey with Baroness Newlove of Warrington as vice-chair. The group’s first action will be to launch an inquiry into what more can be done to reduce ASB in our communities and what specifically housing providers can do to make things better for their tenants.

The inquiry will need to look at how we allocate housing in our communities, the way partners should work together when addressing this issue and how the courts could play a better role.

However, much more also needs to be included and I would invite you to help us shape this inquiry as well as provide evidence and insight over the next few months. Please let us have your thoughts on what else should be included by emailing [email protected].

Our specific aims for the first formal inquiry of the APPG are:

  • To understand the current barriers the housing sector and other stakeholders face in dealing with ASB in our communities
  • To set out recommendations for how stakeholders can work together more effectively in addressing and reducing ASB
  • To set out recommendations for what government needs to change to support stakeholders in addressing and reducing ASB.

The APPG will hold four parliamentary meetings to hear from people who have experienced ASB, academics, practitioners, and decision makers. The group will also invite written evidence on the barriers to addressing and reducing ASB faced by landlords. The key questions for the call-out will be:

  • What are the main barriers faced by housing providers and others in addressing and reducing ASB?
  • What needs to change to ensure the system for addressing and reducing ASB can better do so, and support the creation of healthy and balanced communities?
  • What needs to change to better support victims of ASB and change the behaviour of perpetrators?

At Midland Heart, we don’t just complain that we face barriers to meeting our goals, we act to create the change that we want to see; we are proud to be leading the way on this important issue.