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New scheme in Ebbw Vale helps housing tenants to report nuisance neighbours

A new scheme which enables Gwent Police Community Support Officers to submit evidence against problem neighbours has improved life for residents in Ebbw Vale.

Gwent Police are working with a number of housing associations in Ebbw Vale – Tai Calon Community Housing, United Welsh and Melin Homes – to anonymously gather evidence from residents about neighbours who are committing crime and anti-social behaviour.

In responding to reported problems, Community Support Officers (CSOs) ask residents who wish to remain anonymous about their experiences. They then record details in their notebooks before preparing a third-party statement on behalf of the individual.

These statements can then be submitted as evidence to the courts and can lead to problem tenants being evicted from their homes.

A 36-year-old woman from Waunlywd, Ebbw Vale recently resigned her tenancy after legal proceedings were launched against her using statements submitted by CSOs about her behaviour.

In Ebbw Vale crime was down by 20.1% last year (January 2012 – December 2012) compared with the same period in 2011, meaning 368 fewer victims.

Antisocial behaviour was down by 43.7% last year (January 2012 – December 2012) compared with 2011, meaning 775 fewer victims.

Inspector Dave Morgan, of Ebbw Vale neighbourhood Policing Team, said “This new approach allows evidence to be brought before the courts that victims of crime or anti-social behaviour otherwise may be too frightened to give.

“CSOs do not have the power to take statements from members of the public like police officers, but they can make notes about people’s experiences in their notebooks and then submit statements themselves relaying what residents have told them.

“Residents deserve the right to a quiet life and I’m delighted that this work we are doing in partnership with local social landlords and their tenants is helping to improve people’s lives and make them feel safe in their communities.”

A resident of Waunlywd, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We are very happy with the support and assistance we received while Gwent police and United Welsh dealt with a resident who was causing lots of problems in the area.

“Residents on the estate were kept informed throughout the entire process – I’d like to thank officers and housing staff for listening to our problems and taking positive action. We have noticed a difference in the street already.”

Sian Weeks, Senior Anti-social Behaviour Co-ordinator for United Welsh said: “Working in partnership is important in creating cohesive, happy communities. This work is resulting in tenancy management of the highest level; the results of successfully ending tenancies where required and safeguarding our communities is of paramount importance to us.

“Anti-social behaviour is certainly not a social housing issue. We deal with homeowners and those renting in both the public and private sector.

“Whatever the tenure of the victim and the perpetrator, this partnership will help to tackle anti-social behaviour in a firm but fair way for the benefit of the whole community.”

Andrew Myatt, director of Communities and Housing for Tai Calon Community Housing, said: “We are determined to do what we can to help tenants affected by anti-social behaviour. Our neighbourhood teams are working alongside Gwent Police to publicise this initiative and to make it a success."

Mark Gardner, Chief Executive of Melin Homes, said: “Our partnership with Gwent Police is an essential part of our approach to community safety and greatly benefits resident satisfaction with the area in which they live.”

If you have any concerns about crime or anti-social behaviour in your area, please contact Gwent Police on 101 to report incidents or visit the website at www.gwent.police.uk to find contact details for your local policing team.

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