Blog June 12, 2020

Streetwise: support against antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse

Safer communities build more sustainable tenancies. Limiting and reducing the harm antisocial behaviour (ASB) and domestic violence (DA) can cause families and environments is essential for our communities and with our Streetwise solution, is an outcome we aim to support. Product Owner, Mel Bridge explains the need for Streetwise and how it supports housing providers to protect the victims of antisocial behaviour and domestic violence.

In 2016, we partnered with Sunderland-based housing association, Gentoo Group on a case management system, which would become Streetwise. Mel takes us back to the beginning: “Streetwise was developed originally by Gentoo in the wake of some serious incidents across the country, either to do with ASB or DA. It became apparent to Gentoo that there wasn’t a particular system that helped practitioners make sure that they had all of the information in one place.

“With antisocial behaviour, there are set timescales that you have to respond to, depending on the severity of that antisocial behaviour. With domestic abuse it’s a bit different because it depends on the level of risk for the victim of that abuse and what type of abuse it is.”

Gentoo “developed Streetwise from their perspective and when they were talking to other practitioners in the country, what they found was that there was an appetite for such a system. Consequently, they sold it on to a number of different housing associations and local authorities,” including Sunderland, North Tyneside and the City of London Housing Service. The system supports the recording of incidents to enable the provision of support and safeguarding for victims of ASB and DA.

At MRI Software, we are dedicated to forging partnerships with practitioners in order to create solutions that truly work for those working in the sector. Gentoo built Streetwise themselves, tailored around the lived realities of their customers and moving the product forward meant the perfect opportunity for a partnership with a software house such as ourselves.

 “Customers will now have access to data, which will enable those on the front-line to make faster and more informed decisions about how to make our communities safer. Streetwise is the only commercially available Case Management System that has been developed in-house by a housing association for others within the sector. We are proud to work with another organisation that puts customers and communities at the heart of everything they do.”

Michelle Meldrum, Managing Director, Gentoo Operations

In reaction to changing legislation regarding Domestic Abuse, Mel tells us, “We got involved with Streetwise. I was involved in the onboarding process and did all the due diligence around bringing Streetwise on: What was good about the program? Why did people use it?”

“For me the case for Streetwise, is having that ability to record all of the different people who are affected by a behaviour. This could be the victim, the perpetrator(s), or witnesses. You tend to find, particularly with antisocial behaviour, whilst one person might report that they are the ‘victim’ and accuse a ‘perpetrator’, if you talk to the ‘perpetrator’, a lot of the time they will say they’re the ‘victim’ – and it goes to-ing and fro-ing.”

Recording incidents with Streetwise provides a more comprehensive, holistic view of the customer’s circumstances, so the most appropriate person-centred support and interventions can be put in place. ASB issues are often complex and feature interpersonal relationships that a housing association or local authority doesn’t witness. For housing providers, having a long-term, big picture view of these cases can help establish as close as possible, the reality of a complaint. We took a look at this complex topic in our 2019 ‘Building Sustainable Tenancies’ series and the role of housing providers in supporting the building of cohesive communities.

The current lockdown has seen a well-documented rise in reported incidents of domestic abuse because, Mel thinks, “people are living on top of each other. I think people are becoming more intolerant, particularly of noise, which is perceived as being an ASB problem.” Often however, housing providers are finding that the lines between reported ASB and DA are blurred; a general noise complaint can be discovered as resulting from an incident of domestic abuse.

The main function of the Streetwise system is to document incidents, which Mel explains is crucial; “particularly in the more serious cases. The ability to have the information so you can then download it and pass it on to legal channels, should you need to actually progress it is vital”. The software guides housing officers “through a framework so everybody is consistent over time. I think probably more important now than previously is making sure that you’re gathering all of that evidence, which is of course, more challenging, because you can’t go to people’s houses – but cases still need to be investigated because it’s making people’s lives miserable.”

Evidence

Using Streetwise establishes patterns for housing officers and safeguarding teams, which can then be evidenced to third parties. Any interactions or incidents that occur can then be recorded on the system against a case to build up a much fuller picture of an individual or household. Housing officers “can work through a case to find the detail; have all of their notes, recordings, meetings and letters that have been sent out in one place, to actually work out what the issue is and the steps that need to be taken to address it.” Streetwise gives officers the tools “to evidence back to the victim, keeping in touch that something is progressing. A lot of victims of ASB or DA will often feel like nobody really cares; Streetwise flags up to officers to keep in touch with victims and shows when progress has been made on the case. Witnesses can also come across anonymously and be recorded within the system.”

Good case management support is not the only feature of Streetwise that can help with building safer communities. Mel explains, “you can actually pull off information to be able to show hotspots of ASB within an area.” Users can then access this information and “dig down into the detail to see the different levels of crime etc., because what you’ll actually tend to find with an ASB hot spot is that there could be a root cause against it.”

The ability of Streetwise to capture the bigger picture can help protect individuals and strengthen communities. Where ASB is concerned, the sustainability of tenancies hangs in the balance and early intervention can be the difference between a swift resolution and the escalation of disturbances to unliveable conditions. For those suffering domestic abuse, an inability to join the dots in patterns of behaviour can lead to consequences that are graver still. By centralising ‘isolated’ incidents and flagging up repeat disturbances, officers have the tools at their hands to create safer communities and homes.

If you want to know more about Streetwise, email us on socialhousing@mrisoftware.com and put Streetwise in the subject header and we will have someone get back in contact with you.

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