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Council did not do enough to help social housing tenant enduring homophobic abuse, Ombudsman says

Coventry City Council did not consider what else it could do to help a man who was subject to homophobic abuse when he called on officers for assistance, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man, who lives in a housing association property in the city, reported his neighbours to the police and his housing association for their behaviour on several occasions.

His MP and a local councillor asked for the local community safety partnership to hold a Community Trigger Panel meeting which involved the police, housing association and the council. This should have proactively looked at how to address the antisocial behaviour, but instead, it merely reviewed the police and housing association's response to his concerns, the Ombudsman found.

The panel decided not to take any further action. The man then appealed to the council, but it concluded he had not provided any new evidence that might overturn the panel's decision.

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Following this, the council encouraged the man to accept an offer to meet with the council, police and housing association to help resolve his concerns.

But the man went on to complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who criticised the council's lack of initiative in helping to tackle the situation. It also found fault with the way the man was not invited to the panel meeting and with the council's record keeping.

Michael King, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said it appeared the council had misunderstood the purpose of the trigger and the proactive role it should play in finding solutions to antisocial behaviour.

Mr King added: “Government guidance says that when completing a Community Trigger Review, parties should take a problem-solving approach to finding a solution. But the council did not consider if there was anything it could do under its own powers, whether individually or working with other agencies, to improve the man’s situation.

“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and hope the review it will carry out of its area’s Community Trigger policy will improve the system for others experiencing antisocial behaviour in the city.”

In light of the Ombudsman’s investigation, the council has agreed to apologise to the man and to review the Community Trigger Policy and procedures with its partners to ensure it reflects a proactive approach.

In addition, it pledged to ensure the relevant officers and members receive training on how to effectively complete a Community Trigger review.

A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said: “We work hard to provide excellent services for the people of Coventry across a wide range of areas and we are proud of the work we do. Sadly, on this occasion though, it seems we have fallen short of those high standards and we would like to apologise to the resident concerned.

“As a council, we take anti-social behaviour very seriously and we want to stress that if any resident is suffering as a result of anti-social behaviour, or witnesses it taking place, they should contact ourselves and the police. We will take whatever action we can to ensure that all our residents are able to live in a safe, healthy environment, free from discrimination and prejudice.

It added: “As well as apologising formally to the resident, we have followed the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report and reviewing our procedures with our partners, and offering training to officers, to ensure we provide the best possible service to residents and that an incident like this is not repeated.“

Adam Carey

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