Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Housing Executive hails mediation scheme success

The Housing Executive claims its link-up with two restorative justice schemes is helping it deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour in north Down and Ards.

According to a spokesperson, there were 225 reports of anti-social behaviour made to the Bangor District Office last year, while there were also 173 reports made to the Executive’s Newtownards office.

Approximately 4,700 incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) were received and processed across the Housing Executive's 35 District |Offices.

This is a slight increase of 6.7% on the previous year’s total of 4,390, and the figures may well be up because of increased public confidence in reporting anti-social behaviour to the Housing Executive.

Acting Bangor District Manager Alison Methven said: “Our District Office has performed extremely well this year, but there is still much more that can be achieved. We must continue to work with communities to bring an end to anti-social behaviour.

“I would encourage people to report incidents as and when they occur, and not to suffer in silence.

“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the PSNI and local councils to address anti-social behaviour.”

The Housing Executive's focus is on early interventions that stop such behaviour, and action that helps keep people in their homes.

Legal action is therefore only required in 1% of all reported incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Frank Mulhern, the Housing Executive's Community Safety Manager, added: “The majority of reports received by the Housing Executive are relatively low-level incidents, with over 25% of all reports relating to noise nuisance.

“Most cases can be resolved by the use of warning letters, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, or referral to our mediation service.”

In 2009-2010, the Housing Executive expanded its mediation service by partnering with two community-based schemes in Belfast.

Both Northern Ireland Alternatives and Community Restorative Justice Ireland mediate on cases referred to them by the Housing Executive.

“Over the past 12 months we have seen a significant increase in mediation referrals, from 89 to 184,” said Mr Mulhern.

“This approach is clearly having a positive impact.

“If you are a Housing Executive tenant, and are experiencing anti-social behaviour, you should report the incident immediately to your local Housing Executive District Office.

You can come and talk to us confidentially, and we will see what needs to be done to tackle the problem.”

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