Mending Fences

The Mending Fences project was set up with a three-year grant from the Nuffield Foundation in November 2002. It had five key aims:

  • Support and strengthen the work of community mediation schemes and their use in responses to anti-social behaviour.
  • Support the development of policy and practice on anti-social behaviour within the Thames Valley.
  • Identify, support and develop good practice in prevention work and responses to anti-social behaviour.
  • Use local experience from the Thames Valley to contribute to the national debate on anti-social behaviour work.
  • Support for the development of restorative approaches in tackling anti-social behaviour.

The main notion behind Mending Fences was that a comprehensive approach to ASB should maximise the use of preventative and problem solving strategies.   A key aim was to help with the capacity building of mediation, including the demonstration where possible of its potential to provide best value provision as against statutory intervention.

Community involvement and empowerment were regarded as crucial to a comprehensive response, as were training and referral awareness for many groups of staff. The ASBO should be seen as the top of a hierarchy of options, but even at that stage there may be some room for restorative or problem solving contributions.

Following the launch of the Mending Fences Report in 2005, the Nuffield Foundation kindly provided some additional funds to take the findings to a wider audience. As a result the Positive Approaches Alliance was established. This was a group of agencies committed to rebalancing Anti-social behaviour policy away from a preoccupation with enforcement options onto much greater commitment to prevention, conflict resolution, and community empowerment. Since the Alliance began these policies have been promoted at a range of conferences and events

A contribution was provided to the funding of the Runnymede Trust’s research on ASBOs and Race. This research is available on the Runnymede Trust web site. It argues powerfully for a fundamental review of the operation of ASBOs, and highlights the almost total lack of data about race issues in their use. Runnymede also strongly support the case much greater funding of prevention and conflict resolution work.

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