A pioneering Derby project established to tackle rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour has won a national award.

The Proactive Engagement and Enforcement Partnership (PEEP) won Team of the Year at the Resolve ASB Awards on Tuesday night. The PEEP is a coalition of several local statutory and voluntary agencies, who are working together to eliminate visible on-street begging, anti-social behaviour and drug taking activities happening in Derby city centre. The emphasis remains on supporting vulnerable people to break the cycle of harm, but there are tough penalties for those who resist, with officers working to disrupt criminal activity, which blights the lives of local people and impacts on public safety.

Established in January 2017 following a summit held by the Office of the Police Crime Commissioner, the PEEP is co-ordinated by Public Health and brings together partners including Derby City Council, Derby Homes, Derbyshire Constabulary, probation services, local faith groups and specialist housing providers. Following significant media attention around ‘black mamba zombies’ and other anti-social behaviour in the city centre, and concern from local residents and business owners, it was decided that a tougher approach was needed to tackle the problem.

Many of the people who were committing crime and exhibiting anti-social behaviour were actually very vulnerable adults who had a range of health and social needs, including drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and poor mental health. The key element of the project’s success has been the joint ‘engagement and enforcement’ aspect. Previously these two elements have been handled by separate teams, but under the PEEP, information can be shared quickly and effectively about individuals. Recognising that perpetrators of crime and anti-social behaviour can also be vulnerable and in need of support means that a unique approach can be adopted in helping them. Many individuals reported that the tougher ‘enforcement’ element, from the police and probationary services, was essential in helping them to engage with the project in the first place. They were then more willing to work with drug programmes, housing agencies and mental health providers.

Since the PEEP’s creation, there has been has been substantial positive media attention about the improvements to the city. The footfall to Derby has increased, and most importantly the people who work in and visit Derby City now feel safer, due to the reduction in visible on-street begging, anti-social behaviour (ASB) and drug taking activities. Due to the partnership’s success, numerous other agencies including police forces, local councils and Business Improvement Districts from across the country have visited Derby to see how it works in order to tackle the issues in their own cities.

In January, Derby was visited by the Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP who came to see the positive outcomes of the partnership and speak to people who have experienced homelessness first-hand.

Over the last six years, the homeless partnership work in Derby has gone from strength to strength. In the past year, Derby City Council and Derby Homes have secured over £1M in grants from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that will expand and strengthen work to tackle homelessness in the city.

The most recent funding will see one of the country’s first Rapid Re-housing Pathway’s developed in the city. This “Safe Space” will provide a basic shelter, along with rapid assessment and support for rough sleepers who, for multiple reasons, choose not to engage with support services.

Dr Richard Martin, Assistant Director of Public Health – Head of Substance Misuse

“When we started PEEP we didn’t imagine how much it would grow – and just how much of an impact it would have on the most complex and vulnerable people in Derby.

“It remains a priority across a truly impressive range of partners, and this award – a very pleasant surprise – is testimony to how well we can work together in Derby to meet our shared objectives.

“I’m immensely proud and would like to extend my continued thanks to a wonderful and diverse team of people.”

Inspector Lauren Woods, who is in charge of policing in Derby city centre, added:

“The Derby City Centre Safer Neighbourhood Team work hard to ensure that the city centre is a safe place to work, visit and live in.

“We have always been clear, that although we are happy to make arrests and take positive action, this is never going to solve the longer term problems that cause these issues.

“Working closely with others in the Proactive Engagement and Enforcement Partnership (PEEP) ensures that, as well as individuals being held to account for their poor behaviour, they are also offered an opportunity to resolve the problems that have led to this behaviour.

“The team are really proud to be part of the PEEP and that it has had such a positive effect on Derby city centre.”

The Resolve ASB Awards is a national award ceremony which recognises the outstanding contribution of tenants, housing officers, ASB & community safety practitioners and their partners in resolving anti-social behaviour and making communities safer.

Established in 1995, Resolve ASB is the UK’s leading organisation specialising in delivering effective solutions to antisocial behaviour.

It is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to help those involved in the social housing sector to deal positively with antisocial behaviour and thereby empower their communities.