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Police target is anti-social

The headline results of our anti-social behaviour survey may reveal that one in three families in the UK have been affected by the problem in the past two years, with the figure rising to 41 percent for social tenants. But for social landlords there is a deeper concern.

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According to the 2,030 people spoken to by YouGov, only 17 per cent have confidence in their landlord or local authority’s ability to combat ASB in their community. This means that more than three-quarters of social housing tenants are unsure of their landlord’s ability to provide them with an enjoyable environment in which to live.

This concern is echoed by former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has accused social landlords of being ‘patronising’ to well-behaved tenants by indulging the bad behaviour of others.

However, councils and housing associations do have something to say in their defence. According to statistics from Housemark, 83 per cent of ASB cases reported to social landlords are resolved without further incident. Clearly housing officers have some idea what they are doing, even if their residents are struggling to see it.

Unfortunately, if landlords want to shout about these achievements they are going to have to be quick. There is real concern in the sector that a hard-won relationship with problem tenants could be undermined by a pledge introduced by the Home Office last month that gives police the lead role in tackling ASB locally.

This in itself is not a problem - indeed, the Scottish experience suggests it could be the solution - but the measure of success is to be whether or not public confidence in police attempts to tackle ASB and crime rises from 42 per cent to 60 per cent by 2012. This target is mad and evidence is already emerging of police attempting to raise their profile by pressing landlords to evict tenants against their better judgement.

Up to this point police, landlords and social services had been starting to work together more effectively to prevent ASB. It would be foolish to jeopardise this partnership to chase a target - especially as two-thirds of landlords (see page 20) expect ASB to rise during the recession.

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