On 21st June, 2022, the Housing Ombudsman found severe maladministration of a report of a race hate-related anti-social behaviour (ASB) incident from July 2020.
Habinteg takes all incidents and allegations of anti-social behaviour and hate crime very seriously. We accept that we should have handled this incident much better and we have apologised to the tenant.
Since this incident took place, two years ago, we have commissioned an independent review of our handling of the case and we are implementing a new anti-social behaviour policy. We have carried out additional staff training to improve how we respond to anti-social behaviour and hate crime incidents and have also established a new post to improve our complaints handling process.
We want our customers to have confidence that Habinteg will deal with their concerns in a timely and professional manner. We are sorry that we didn’t handle the case in question appropriately at the time. The Ombudsman’s feedback has offered an important learning and improvement opportunity.
Since the incident, we have strengthened our approach to the way we handle ASB to ensure we always take a person-centred approach. This has included:
- Staff training
- Information, support and advice to tenants on anti-social behaviour
- A new anti-social behaviour policy is being implemented
- Strengthening our complaints handling process
- Ensuring Board oversight and risk management.
- All frontline staff received ASB training from an external agency, ASB action on 22nd September 2020. This included the logging of cases and ensuring the correct categories are applied.
- ASB Action delivered further training on hate incidents during hate crime awareness week on 15th October 2021.
- ASB Action delivered further training to all Neighbourhood Managers and Neighbourhood Co-ordinators on 25th January 2022.
- All Habinteg staff will receive ASB training in July 2022 (see (g) below).
Information, support and advice to tenants on ASB
- We published our ASB service standards and promoted these to tenants and staff in August 2021.
- We created a new role of Anti-social behaviour officer for the North, where we experience the highest numbers of ASB cases, including this case. A new Officer steps into the post this month.
New ASB policy and review of all tenant-facing policies and procedures
- The Board approved a new ASB and Hate Crime Policy in March 2022, developed in conjunction with engaged tenants. In July 2022, all Habinteg staff will be trained on the policy and associated procedures by ASB Action.
- To ensure our ASB procedure is followed, and to avoid the possibility of a similar incident taking place again, the Business Support Manager– reporting directly to the Director of Housing and Assets – checks every ASB incident logged by members of the Housing Team.
This is to ensure relevant actions are recorded effectively. To strengthen assurance further, we have purchased an ASB case management system, which will be linked to our database, Active H. This new module is planned to go live in August 2022.
- Our safeguarding audit (undertaken from January 2022 and reported to Board in March 2022) recommended a closer link between ASB and safeguarding. This is now reflected in the new ASB policy & our revised approach to safeguarding.
- We reviewed all our tenant-facing policies and procedures in January – March 2022. As part of this review, several priority policies have been updated or are scheduled for an update.
Strengthening our complaints handling process
- The Housing Ombudsman’s determination identified the need to strengthen Habinteg’s approach to complaint handling.
We appointed a new Customer Services Resolution Officer in March 2022. The Officer is dedicated to ensuring Habinteg’s complaints handling procedure is robust and that learning from complaints is embedded across the organisation. Between May 2021 and May 2022, the Board received three reports about complaints.
Ensuring Board oversight and risk management
- We have updated Habinteg’s Board on the case, together with work completed and work underway to strengthen our approach to ASB case handling.
We have updated our Operational Risk Register (ORR) to include a risk on the handling of ASB, together with associated mitigating actions. Habinteg’s Board reviewed the ORR in May 2022.