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Anti-social behaviour law and policy in the United Kingdom: assessing the impact of enforcement action in the management of social housing

Hoffman, Simon, Mackie, Peter Kelso ORCID: and Pritchard, John 2010. Anti-social behaviour law and policy in the United Kingdom: assessing the impact of enforcement action in the management of social housing. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment 2 (1) , pp. 26-44. 10.1108/17561451011036504

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of enforcement action on individuals and families living in social housing as a mode of intervention for dealing with anti-social behaviour. Design/methodology/approach – Relevant housing legislation and policy documents are reviewed. The paper then draws on empirical data from Shelter Cymru's case file records of households in social housing who have been subject to enforcement action following an allegation of anti-social behaviour. Evidence obtained from other studies on housing intervention projects is used to contrast the position of the households studied with those in similar situations who have been provided with support as an alternative to enforcement action. Findings – The legislative framework favours enforcement as a means of dealing with anti-social behaviour. A number of remedies utilise the management role of social landlords, and the framework of housing tenure, to introduce the concept of “conditionality” into housing entitlement. This approach to the management of anti-social behaviour compounds the social disadvantage of already vulnerable households by undermining long-term security of tenure and thereby increasing the risk of homelessness and social exclusion. These outcomes contrast with those from studies of similar households in receipt of support within housing intervention projects which have been shown to deliver reductions in anti-social behaviour and sustainable outcomes for families, communities, and landlords. Social implications – The findings provide important lessons for the future direction of anti-social behaviour policy throughout the UK and beyond. In the context of devolved polity in the UK the paper argues for the Welsh Assembly Government to take a lead in developing policies and legal responses which recognize the housing rights of marginalised groups, and for the introduction of support into social housing to counter the trend toward punitive treatment of social tenants as a response to anti-social behaviour. Originality/value – The unique nature of the empirical data set from Shelter Cymru's case file records provides an important insight into the social impact of anti-social behaviour law and policy on some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
K Law > K Law (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disadvantaged groups ; Housing ; Law enforcement ; Laws and legislation ; Social deviance ; Wales
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 1756-1450
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 12:37

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