A Week in the Life of Swan’s Neighbourhoods Team
This week Swan is supporting ASB Awareness Week. This is a nation wide initiative supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council, the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Local Government Association and other agencies across the UK.
Swan is using this week to put the spotlight on the demanding work officers do behind the scenes to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB). ASB is not low-level crime, it devastates the lives of victims and communities and can be a precursor to more serious crime. Over the last year there has been a large rise in ASB cases and it is anticipated that the situation will get worse as restrictions are lifted.
Swan’s Neighbourhood Officers are all trained to support customers who are affected by ASB with the most serious cases managed by a specialised team of three highly experienced ASB Officers. No two days ever look the same for the team as you can see from this snapshot of a typical week dealing with ASB cases across the team:
One of the ASB Officers started the day with a visit to a mental health ward to serve an Injunction on a tenant who has been sectioned after attacking her neighbours’ properties and wielding a hammer at them.
Another team member sat and watched a video of a tenant who has been attacked with a glass bottle in the street by a gang. The tenant is too frightened to report the attack to the Police.
One of the Neighbourhood Officers attended their first Telephone/Video court hearing of the week. Today’s court hearing was one of three in their diary this week.
As the working day ended, one of the Neighbourhood Officers visited one of our customers who has reported the smell of cannabis coming from one of the neighbouring homes. She stood in the customer’s back garden trying to sniff out the source of the distinctive smell. Cannabis cases make up a very large proportion of the ASB cases managed by the team, unfortunately they are also one of the most challenging case types to resolve.
This morning, another of the Neighbourhoods Team met with witnesses to a case they are working on so that they could sign their formal witness statements. Meanwhile, one of the Officers attended their second telephone/video court hearing of the week – sometimes these are over quickly but today’s hearing went on longer than usual.
With one officer in court, another was making an application for an Injunction against a tenant who has threatened another resident and caused damage to the communal entrance door at Priestman Point.
Meanwhile, one of the dedicated ASB Officers began to investigate a number of reports that have been received about a tenant running a brothel from her home. This investigation (like a lot of the work the team does) will be conducted alongside the Police so that appropriate action can be taken.
One of the Neighbourhood Officers has worked on a serious hoarding case for some time and the time is now approaching where Swan needs to start legal enforcement action so that the electrics in the property can be tested and upgraded (a legal requirement for landlords). She has worked with the elderly tenant for some time to build a rapport with the fiercely independent lady. The tenant has very little support from her family and has filled many of the rooms in her home following the loss of loved ones; she has already refused all help from the various agencies involved.
The Neighbourhood Officer has regularly visited the tenant to collect items she has agreed to donate to charity however, she must reduce her belongings so the essential safety work can begin. The tenant continues to receive support and the Neighbourhood Team have offered to arrange a skip so that she can dispose of things. Sadly, if this offer of support is not accepted, Swan must start enforcement action to ensure compliance with all the essential safety regulations. The Neighbourhood Officer has referred the tenant to Social Care and a specialist decluttering service.
Another Neighbourhood Officer spent a significant part of the day completing Management Move request paperwork for domestic abuse victims, he has three of these requests to deal with this week. This Neighbourhood Officer is also supporting a man who is still living with the woman who is abusing him, he has offered him advice and made the appropriate referrals to services that support male victims of domestic abuse.
It is another busy day in the team; numerous reports of drug dealing and prostitution at a female tenant’s home have come in, so a Neighbourhood Officer starts investigating.
An ASB Officer starts the day by taking a report from a family of a child who has made allegations of sexual abuse. The allegations involve a school and the family’s home is opposite the school, so the team are trying to arrange for them to move into a new home.
Meanwhile, another member of the team is attending a hearing being held at Clerkenwell & Shoreditch County Court. A successful outcome is achieved as they obtain an Injunction and Undertaking against two tenants causing ASB.
One of the Neighbourhood Officers begins investigating reports of a Hate Related Incident involving a tenant in one of our blocks. The tenant has been accused of deliberately harassing their Asian neighbours and making derogatory remarks about their religion. The case has now been passed to solicitors.
A lot of the information and ASB complaints the team receive are made anonymously. Today one of the team spent some time contacting the anonymous complainants to see if they could provide more information and to ask if they would consider working with us so that we can gather evidence to support drug cases.
First thing this morning one of the Senior Neighbourhood Officers spent some time working on a very sensitive and on-going case involving a very vulnerable resident who has severe paranoia and recognised mental health issues. The tenant is causing concern and alarm for neighbours; we have had to balance the needs of this vulnerable tenant as well as the wider community. The team have engaged with the Community Mental Health Service and are working closely with the care co-ordinators to ensure the resident is able to remain living independently. A lot of time has been spent on this case building a good relationship with the mental health team as well as the neighbours, so that they feel supported and know that we are taking their concerns seriously until the issues can be fully resolved.
Another member of the team made a joint visit to a tenant’s home with a Police Officer. During the visit they inspected the property and discussed Swan’s concerns following reports of ASB, including cuckooing and thefts from letterboxes.
Meanwhile, one of the ASB Officers was completing an application to a Community MARAC (a monthly multi-agency meeting where partners share information on high profile cases). Swan needs some information from the group members about a tenant’s mental health and Police attendances because a number of reports have been received suggesting he is causing a lot of disruption and issues in the local community including laying down on the busy A127.
One of the Neighbourhood Officers spent the afternoon focussing on a case involving a tenant who has Learning Disabilities. He swore at children playing near his flat and their parents complained. She has been trying to get him moved into Supported Housing.
Finally, another member of the team finished the week working with the Council and Local Policing Team. An elderly (non-tenant) resident is being upset by some youths who are causing nuisance in their mix-tenure community. It’s been a busy week.
You can report ASB anonymously to Swan by calling 0300 303 2500 or emailing ASB@swan.org.uk. For more information visit https://www.swan.org.uk/residents/help-advice/anti-social-behaviour-hate-crime/