Greenwich Council is set to abolish its current “Tenancy Enforcement Patrol Team” and replace them with uniformed officers who will be working to improve the way public spaces (like greens or landings) are used. The change follows a clear admission by Royal Borough of Greenwich Council that the current approach is not working as in making the decision they state “we recognise that our existing tenancy enforcement patrol model needs to adapt rapidly” (4.3)
The new policy seems to transfer the enforcement function from the Housing Department to the Community Safety & Enforcement portfolio to create a new ‘Safer Estates’ team within the Safer Spaces Department (which is currently focused on Town Centres (especially Woolwich).
The change in policy follows on from a consultation where only 15 residents responded and will lead to halving the number of Officers encouraging good behaviour on Council estates. The new team will have their own uniform & body armour to make them more clearly visible on estates. The aim is to ensure that a better use of analysis will mean that the new Safer Estates team can focus their work on areas where there are issues rather than making the same patrols each week regardless of whether there are any issues on the route.
The aim of the policy change is to switch to using penalties like fines instead of writing to tenants where anti-social behaviour has been identified.
Conservative Spokesman on Housing Cllr Spencer Drury said “The Council is still bedding in the Safer Spaces approach in town centres, but this expansion into the Estates is welcome. Residents had often raised with me concerns about whether the Tenancy Enforcement Patrols which they had to pay for through Service Charges were worthwhile. There was a feeling that they often missed problems as they were only present at certain times of the week, so a targeted approach should be more effective. Of course, ensuring this approach is successful means it has to be properly funded, in particular ensuring there is good communication of where there are problems, analysis of the way they might be addressed and dedicated transport to allow the team to quickly respond if necessary.”
“More importantly, this more positive, proactive approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour in public spaces must lead to a similar improvement in the way the Housing Department deal with noise, drugs and abusive language by tenants in their properties. The Council needs to make clear its expectation that tenants will treat their neighbours with respect and ensure there are clear sanctions for breaching those standards.”
Spencer has also raised whether the Council might be able to extend this approach to housing associations where anti-social behaviour on their estates can also be a problem.
If agreed the Safer Estates programme could start in the new year (2022).