Headlines: April 12th, 2007



A network of intervention projects is being established in 53 areas of England to help local communities deal with problem families and nuisance neighbours. The announcement came on the day that new statistics in the Social Trends Survey showed complaints about noisy neighbours had increased fivefold in the past two decades.

The new Family Intervention Projects will work with problem families to challenge and change their behaviour. In most areas this will be done through outreach, working with the families in their own homes but in extreme cases they will be moved to special units where they can be supervised 24 hours a day. Residential core units are to be developed in Bolton, Derby, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Wakefield and Wirral and eight other areas – Bristol, Burnley, Coventry, Hastings, Newham, Nottingham, Salford and Southend will look into using such units. The new projects will deal with around 1,500 families a year.

The Home Office says the families create multiple problems and the current way that public services intervene is not always the most effective. It puts the cost to the taxpayer of a range of interventions by public services including social, children’s and housing services, police, the courts and other criminal justice agencies at between 250,000 and 350,000 pounds per family per year. The idea of the Intervention Projects is that a single worker ‘grips’ the family and challenges their behaviour, giving intensive support but applying sanctions if rules are broken.

Louise Casey, the Government’s coordinator for Respect said the projects were a key part of the Respect Programme. “These families can cause untold misery to those who have to live alongside them and destroy entire neighbourhoods with their frightening and disruptive behaviour,” she added. In the past they might have been written off as lost causes but now they would be offered help to become decent members of their communities and to give their children an opportunity to grow up with a chance in life.

The Department for Education and Skills is to fund the training of up to 1,000 project workers to deliver parenting programmes and one-to-one support in the new Intervention Projects.