Out in force to protect our communities

To mark the first ASB Awareness Week, Our housing officer (anti-social behaviour), Nigel Dowd, has shared his experiences of working on the ASB team and the importance of the partnership working that helps to create safer communities for our tenants.

“It’s often commented on by colleagues, tenants (both complainant and perpetrators), friends and even family that they wouldn’t like to do my job. I can see by the very title of the role why people would think that, it can be a thankless job on many occasions despite your best efforts, and often everybody looking for you to have all the answers when sometimes there simply isn’t one but a resolve still needs to be found.

“The successes – and there are quite a few – outweigh the negatives. When you can confidently close a case knowing all the boxes have been ticked; the case notes are an accurate account of events and that the input you have had has made a significant difference in someone’s life.

“In my experience the best results I have had has been through proactive partnership working and forging strong relationships based on trust and ability to get the job done.

“My most recent injunction was hugely because of the involvement of partners helping me to achieve my goal, along with Durham Police and Durham County Council’s community safety officer we were able to gather enough evidence, identify and locate the ring leader of a group of youths terrorising a
neighbourhood in County Durham with some horrendous reports of ASB and crime, leaving some neighbours in fear of leaving their homes.

“At Bernicia, we take a victim-centred approach and use various ways to find a solution so that people can live safely and peacefully in their home, starting with phone calls and visits and then referrals to other teams and partner agencies. When all when all the lines of help have failed or are being ignored, we start court action.

“The outcome was a two-year injunction with an exclusion zone and power of arrest attached, meaning if the perpetrator strayed over a predetermined area he would be arrested and charged with a breach of the injection and contempt of court.

“Last weekend was the first quiet weekend in months for the residents of the street, with no incidents or breach of the injunction being reported.

“Although enforcement action of any kind, be it for non-payment of rent or for serious ASB should always be the last resort, the tools and powers we have to deal with these issues are there for a reason and when used correctly can have a massive impact on a street or a community, as I believe this one will have.”