2 Years On: The Battle Continues to put Victims First

Today is 20th October 2016 – it marks the two year anniversary of the implementation of the majority of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  (I say majority because the injunctions were delayed until 2015).

A year ago I published a blog on my Trigger Thoughts and how little we knew about whether the Community Trigger was being accessed and activated by those who needed it.

At the two year anniversary, we have a lot of data and evidence to show that the Community Trigger, as suspected, is fraught with problems.  Our recent report The Community Trigger: Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise? highlighted the issues around this particular power.  It has been misunderstood by many agencies, the statutory guidance has been completely disregarded with respect to making it clearly accessible to victims, and data on its usage has not been reported.

We will continue to campaign for a Community Trigger that is fit for purpose.  We will continue to pressure government bodies to take responsibility for ensuring the legislation and statutory guidance is complied with and to step up for victims and make the necessary, and perhaps radical, changes required to truly put victims first in this process.

There was a recent debate in the House of Lords about the PSPO which led to a commitment to review the statutory guidance.  This review was also mentioned this week, specifically in relation to a question about the efficacy of the Community Trigger and Community Remedy.  It is music to my ears to hear others raise similar questions to us about this legislation.  I would however question the response of ensuring the guidance “remains relevant and up-to-date”.

ASB practitioners referring to the guidance would, I am sure, agree with me that it is not so much a question of relevancy and being up-to-date, as it is a question of clarity on how some of these powers should work (for example, the consultation process for PSPOs).  We want to ask the following:

bullet    Who is reviewing it?

bullet    Are they ensuring there is input from a range of practitioners?

bullet    Will they be brave enough to make radical changes to ensure victims are put first?

bullet    And who will ensure local areas are implementing the guidance?

For it is not really about how the guidance reads.  It is about who is responsible for its implementation and for ensuring it is being followed.  The statutory guidance can say anything – it will be irrelevant if not followed, as proved by our Community Trigger research with respect to making it accessible to victims and the reporting of data.

We have submitted our suggestions for how the guidance could be improved with respect to the Community Trigger but I am today convinced that our input needs to go deeper than that – to champion the victim which is supposed to be at the heart of each power in the legislation.  I am concerned that if we do not, no one else will, and the guidance will experience minor tweaks and we will still be none the wiser as to the efficacy of the legislation.

Incidentally, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Home Office did not answer Douglas Carswell’s question.  He asked about policy to review the efficacy of the Community Remedy and Trigger.  She responded that the guidance would be reviewed.  He didn’t ask about how good the paperwork was – he asked about how effective the powers were.  Surely you would have to ask practitioners and victims that question …

I read this article in The Third Sector today – a reminder that we must get to work, we have a goal to achieve.  ASB Help has certainly not reached the charity stage Matthew Sherrington refers to where “organisational structure, systems and process start soaking up a lot of energy”.  This is a strength and advantage that on this 2nd anniversary motivates us to keep shouting up for victims so that in practice, not just rhetoric, they are put first.