Casey rallies sector to take lead on respect agenda
The head of the government's new Respect Task Force has implored the sector to take the lead on tackling anti-social behaviour.
Louise Casey, who was appointed as head of the task force when it was created last Friday, said social landlords were ‘the driving force behind the anti-social behaviour agenda'.
The unit will report to the Home Office but will take funding from across Whitehall departments and have an interdepartmental ministerial steering group.
In an exclusive interview with Inside Housing on her second day in the job, Ms Casey said housing associations and councils were critical to the delivery of the respect agenda.
‘If I could get hold of your readers and shake them I would,' she said. ‘They can transform this country.'
Speaking after she attended a raid to close a crack den in Hackney, London, she said social landlords' position on the frontline meant they could make a difference to people's lives ‘every single day'.
Housing officers needed to remember the power they have to make a difference in their communities. Persuading tenants to keep log books of instances of anti-social behaviour was one example, she added.
‘We need to make sure housing associations have the powers they need in driving the agenda forward. They have to understand they are the people that can turn the government's agenda into reality.'
The task force was announced by Home Secretary Charles Clarke with a brief to tackle anti-social behaviour and promote respect in all areas of society.
Bill Payne, chief executive of Yorkshire Housing Group, said associations did not need shaking into action.
‘If anyone understands the enormity of this then we do,' he said. ‘We do not make a song and a dance about it, but we do deal with anti-social behaviour.'
A spokesperson for the National Housing Federation said housing associations had an important role in tackling anti-social behaviour but partnerships with other key stakeholders such as the police were crucial. ‘What is needed is a rounded approach that looks at enforcement action, support for victims and intensive preventative work with those who pose a risk,' he said.
Angus Macdonald, director of anti-social behaviour advisers Community Assist, said social landlords had a vital part to play. ‘If the sector does not do it then anti-social behaviour will not actually be addressed,' he said.