A busy, community-focused housing association based in East London, Poplar HARCA manage almost 10,000 properties across four square miles in Poplar and the Isle of Dogs. The properties Poplar HARCA manage are a mixture of social tenancies, affordable rents and leasehold and they work hard to ensure that each of their residents has the opportunity to be part of their thriving community.
Community is central to the ethos of Poplar HARCA, an integral part of which means ensuring the safety of their residents. Six years ago, Poplar implemented the Streetwise ASB (Antisocial Behaviour) and DA (Domestic Abuse) modules in order to track and monitor incidents for intervention.
According to the Assistant Director of Housing Operations at Poplar HARCA, Jamie Lock: “We had tried a couple of systems before and then we moved to Streetwise and it clearly outperforms the systems we used previously.”
Chelsea Kelly, Head of Community Safeguarding elaborates on her team’s experience of using Streetwise to manage cases and ensure their homes remain safe spaces: “We currently manage 259 cases of ASB and 22 Domestic Abuse cases. We also have 79 Safeguarding cases which encompass supporting vulnerable residents.”
With a relatively small team of five in the Community Safety Team and four, working in the Safeguarding Team, time efficiency is essential for Poplar HARCA. The case management tool within Streetwise ASB and DA is invaluable for ensuring that officers and managers are able to focus their time and expertise where it’s most needed.
Chelsea explains: “From an Officer’s point of view, all the information you need to add to a case can be done so quickly and from a Manager’s perspective, you are able to run reports and easily check Officer caseload to see who is working on what.
“On the Domestic Abuse module, it has a built-in risk assessment which is very useful when preparing for MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) and knowing which cases are high risk.”
Beginning life at Poplar HARCA as an ASB Support Officer, Chelsea understands the system from both sides: “I have only ever known Streetwise to be in use at Poplar HARCA and I think the system is fantastic. I am not someone who is ‘tech savvy’ but it is simple to get to grips with.
“There are tabs down the side of each case, which mean you can easily access the information that you need about a particular case. You can upload attachments to the notes section, which is particularly helpful when residents send in evidence to support their complaint.
“I would recommend Streetwise because it is a good, secure platform. For anyone who is new to using the system, it is easy to navigate and you can obtain all the information you need from one case.”
Ease of use is also a key element of Streetwise for Jamie: “One of the best things about Streetwise is how user friendly it is and being able to log everything in one place and be able to read the complete history, including old cases is extremely useful. This allows the teams to make appropriate and detailed decisions when looking at enforcement actions or support.”
Taking a broader view
Essential to tackling DA and ASB in their homes is the ability for Poplar to see incidents within a wider pattern of behaviour. For Chelsea, one of the key features of having both Streetwise ASB and DA modules is that: “You can see linked incidents through the perpetrator and victim tab when you click on the address. This is really helpful when deciding on the action to take against repeat perpetrators and also when considering what other support can be put in place for someone who may have experienced repeat victimisation.
“This function is particularly important, as you may have a noise nuisance case that is linked to historical Domestic Abuse. Knowing this information helps you to approach the case from a different angle and ensure that when support is needed, this is put in place over enforcement.”
This feature came into use in one memorable case for Chelsea and ensured that her officers were able to pivot in their treatment of an incident:
“Streetwise has enabled us to look at cases in a different way. In one case we had a complaint from a neighbour about noise nuisance in a property and this was logged. After reading the complaint and the noise that was being reported, the Officers decided to look into the history at the address. As the ASB module is linked in with the DA module, we could see that there had been a historical case of Domestic Abuse at the address. Immediately this made us change our approach and we reached out to the tenant living in the property. Rather than taking enforcement action against the noise, we were able to put support mechanisms in place for the tenant.
“This was a really important outcome, as whilst neighbours may not understand what is happening in the household, we had a better understanding and were able to help and support rather than enforce.”
For Jamie, the fact that within Streetwise, Officers have the ability to see the bigger picture, whilst dealing with ASB and DA cases separately is a key feature of the software: “The access control in Streetwise is extremely useful, especially with the big concerns around GDPR. It also allows you to relocate work quickly between officers and teams and this has a big impact on performance, but more importantly, getting the right support to residents who are impacted by ASB. The separation of the Domestic Abuse Module is another excellent feature; we have separate teams that deal with ASB and Domestic Abuse and the separation is really important for us.
As with all MRI modules, Streetwise exists within an agile process of development, meaning that as the roles and remits of Safeguarding Teams change, the product itself can be enhanced to accommodate. For Chelsea,
“The software updates that have been done by MRI have been good; during a user group a number of suggestions were put forward as to what would improve the system and some of these have already been implemented within months of the group. One enhancement I particularly like is the fact that you can now suspend a case whilst court action progresses – and you can even set a date when it will pop back up in your caseload so you can check on it.
“Streetwise is good value for money and there are always people from MRI who can assist if you are having any technical issues. Working with MRI has been great, they are always on hand to help.”