Pilot to tackle causes of bad behaviour produces results
Sixty per cent of anti-social families stopped their nuisance behaviour after they took part in a project to tackle the problem by offering support, an independent study has found.
The research showed that of the 45 families who completed the pilot of the Shelter Inclusion Project more than half had no outstanding actions, such as antisocial behaviour orders, against them at the end of the project.
The study, which was carried out by the University of York, also showed that the behaviour of 11 per cent of the 45 families 'had not deteriorated'.
The aim of the pilot, which ran for three years from 2002 in partnership with Rochdale Council, was to reduce anti-social behaviour and prevent eviction by identifying the causes of unacceptable behaviour and supporting people through it.
Ellie Waide, manager of the Shelter Inclusion Project, said: 'What has helped us is that it's a voluntary sector
programme. We're not linked to housing, education or enforcement, therefore people are more likely to engage.
'There are generally debt, mental health or alcohol issues involved. We empower children and young people to continue with education, we can help them liaise with teachers or refer them to mental health if necessary.'
Of the families that completed the project, 84 per cent were assessed as no longer being at risk of homelessness. Nicholas Pleace, co-author of the report, said the project could be replicated in other parts of the country.
Seventy four households, consisting of 98 adults and 132 children, were supported during the project. Twenty nine families did not complete the pilot.
The average cost for each household whose case had been closed was £9,000. Shelter said this was good value, because not preventing anti-social behaviour 'costs more in the longer term because it can lead to homelessness, ill health, social exclusion and educational underachievement and unemployment'.
Tim Winter, national organiser of the Social Landlords Crime & Nuisance Group, said: 'This is very encouraging. We now want to go beyond enforcement and coerce the most difficult families to accept the help that they have refused in the past.'
He added that voluntary projects tended to be more successful than statutory agencies' intervention because 'there isn't the threat to steal the children, rather it is to work with and support'.