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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

'It's the shift, not the fix.'


Amanda Protheroe explores a victim-led approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour.

The issue of how best to respond to ASB is a challenge we in the sector spend much time debating. A couple of years ago, WG policy review into ASB offered the approach that risk assessment might be a way forward in dealing with this using a victim led response. Things have moved on, a changing policy landscape (Social Services Wellbeing Act 2014, Housing (Wales) Act 2014, Wellbeing Future Generations Act 2015, Prosperity for All 2017,Building Resilient Communities agenda), a deeper understanding and appreciation of addressing vulnerabilities when dealing with anti-social behaviour was outlined. This, along with the ACE agenda as promoted by Public Health Wales (Bellis et al 2015), resulted in the Programme for Change. A WG supported steering group, chaired by Alun Michael PCC was tasked to take this forward. Bonnie Navarra, the APPC, has been working both with the police and the housing sector to frame how this response could be managed.

Bonnie then put together a team, supported by the housing lead of the ACE hub, Charlotte Waite. The team, Emma Howells, Jamie Saunders, Kath Deakin, Sam Howells and Amanda Protheroe have designed the project and are currently working with Cardiff CC and Trivallis trialling the approach.

The Review Together project is being piloted in line with the ethos and framework it espouses, no checklist or procedural changes are required. Rather it is a self-assessment tool, supported by training and information, which allows organisations to throw a spotlight on the dimensions, depth and quality of relationships between all parties. It also will offer frameworks to support staff and tenants, alongside rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach.

From the systemic to the relational

The view that effective responses to vulnerable persons are best informed by looking at the human interaction and relationship support have been discussed, evaluated and conceptualised for a number of decades.

Relational Cultural Theory (RCT) was rooted in the work of Jean Baker Miller (1976). Miller (1981) continued to develop the theory and described five good things that characterise a growth fostering relationship including increased knowledge of oneself, an increased sense of worth and a desire to take action because of increased confidence.

Infrastructure light, relationship heavy

It is the defining of the relationship and how this will be facilitated that is the key, regardless of the structure. In other words, the thread that runs through the whole organisation.

The evidence that tenants value a quality of relationship is growing (Protheroe A et al 2017, Power A et al 2015) where tenants outlined a kind, yet firm, on judgmental approach was really valued. Cottam (2011) is one example of how to apply those theories to a model of relational welfare. in the scenario presented, the LIFE project had clear cost and social benefit outcomes, a reduction of over 20 staff dealing with one family , down to a few, the family eventually reengaging in work and school

This theme of relational focus and kindness are reflected in policy development by the Carnegie Trust and JRF (2016).

How does this shape Review Together?

“in other words, the situations were not neighbour disputes but problems themselves which the system had failed to manage attempting to control by an ASB route" Brown 2004 (p209)

The "situations" will be more nuanced than this but a relational approach informed by PIE, ACE’s knowledge and other insights have been shown to lead to reductions in ASB, especially repeat ASB cases, as much as 80% reductions have been independently evidenced (Nixon).

The space and support required for staff to consider using this approach; the knowledge and insight needed and the input of the view of complainants and those who have been complained against are key components of the review process. Allowing organisations to reflect on their approaches and decide how best to move things forward, supported by the project and the information it provides are it’s aims. There are some considerations:

What does it look like in practice? How are staff supported? Do tenants want this type of relationship?

In order to answer these questions, we are evaluating our work with input from tenants and staff. The organisations themselves will define what this looks like in practice. There will be an independent evaluation by Cardiff Met. University, some of the questions and the defining of whether the intervention has been successful have been drawn up by the tenants themselves.

We are grateful for the support and guidance received from Bonnie, and the support from the WG, the advisory and steering groups. The insight and commitment and interest from staff and tenants has been fantastic and we look forward to sharing some of the initial findings with you at Tai.

Amanda Protheroe is speaking at TAI 2018. Click here for more information.

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