A day in the life of…A Neighbourhood Dispute Officer
Creating and maintaining communities where residents live safely, securely and enjoy a good quality of life is hugely important. When there are potential barriers to this the work of our Neighbourhood Dispute Officers (NDOs), such as Matt Williams, is vital.
North Wales-based Matt is one of six NDOs who help to deliver lasting change in behaviour where there are incidents of anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood disputes in our communities. This can include everything from issues such as noise disturbance and disagreements over property boundaries through to issues linked to serious organised crime involving drugs. NDOs work as part of the housing team, providing an additional resource and specialist skills to deal with complex anti-social behaviour cases.
“The main purpose of our job is to reduce conflict, friction and anti-social behaviour and build safe and secure neighbourhoods,” says Matt, who primarily works in Conwy and Flintshire. “We work on changing and influencing behaviour and breaking down barriers, by speaking to residents and helping them understand how their behaviour might be making others feel.”
“No-one should ever have to suffer in silence if they are being affected by issues in their neighbourhood.”
“We will always take a preventative or restorative approach, with legal action such as evictions always a last case scenario.” Matt worked in the prison and probation service before joining WWH in 2020, bringing valuable experience of multi-agency working and applying reasoning skills into his new role. “I work closely with police and other statutory agencies on a regular basis to help resolve issues as effectively and efficiently as possible. No day is the same. You are always dealing with something different and this is an enjoyable part of the job.”
“No-one should ever have to suffer in silence if they are being affected by issues in their neighbourhood and it’s important that residents make our staff aware of any escalating problems”, says Matt.
There are also valuable resources which residents can consult such as the website of ASB Help, a registered charity which provides advice and support to victims of anti-social behaviour. “We always advise residents to try and speak to each other in the first instance to resolve any issues,” he said. “It may be that one individual involved isn’t aware they are causing a nuisance, for example, and this in itself can cause friction.”
“But there is a service there for you if you are encountering issues with neighbours and you can contact us through your Housing Officer. We can’t act on anything without knowing about it.” While issues of ASB can be complex and challenging to resolve, Matt’s role is a rewarding one, where simply applying great communication skills is one of the most effective tools of all. “The most important thing in the job is being able to speak to people, listen to their point of view and take proportionate action.”
“I love my job. We have a great working environment and all of the housing team work closely together to make a difference to residents.”
If you believe you are a victim of anti-social behaviour contact your Housing Officer or visit the ASB Help website at https://asbhelp.co.uk to find out about support available to you.