What is the problem?
In some communities there are a small number of highly problematic families that account for a disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviour. They are well known to many service providers and enforcement agencies. Some families have up to twenty different organisations involved with them.
The effect of their behaviour on communities cannot be under-estimated. Those living around these families often move home themselves if they can, many end up keeping their children indoors and changing their daily routines. Their behaviour corrodes community spirit and reduces a community’s capacity to deal with problems. These families can also have problems themselves – physical and mental health problems, domestic violence, substance misuse, poor basic and life skills. Children often have behavioural problems and are not regular school attendees.
However, services struggle to resolve these cases. Lots of different agencies are usually involved with different family members (such as children’s services, education welfare, voluntary organisations, housing departments as well as the police and criminal justice agencies). While families need help and support, they may not want to engage, or reject the help, or are offered it as an option to take up if they choose. Enforcement action has been sometimes been threatened but is not followed through.
So despite months and years of intervention from agencies, they continue to damage themselves, their children and the community around them. Tackling problems in a way that meets both the needs of communities and of the families themselves is critical to resolving problems but these needs have sometimes been seen as mutually exclusive