Category Archives: 2014

Effective Support for Anti-Social Behaviour Victims

Today we are launching a new report looking at Victim Support’s work with the victims of anti-social behaviour. ASB Help Report Effective Support November 2014

The aim of this research was to establish the availability of Victim Support services across the country and to gain an understanding of the nature of the support available.

We found:

bullet Only 23% of the population in England and Wales have access to specialist Victim Support anti-social behaviour services.

bullet The characteristics of the support available vary greatly from place to place in funding, scope, and profile.

bullet An independent point of contact – as used in the ‘ASB Champion’ service model – is of huge value to victims of anti-social behaviour in reducing the complexities of getting help.

Our recommendations include:

bullet Priority in commissioning for victims of anti-social behaviour should be given to specific victim-focused support, preferably independent of the local or statutory authorities.

bullet Increased sharing of best-practice both within and between local authorities.

bullet Increased sharing of best-practice between Police and Crime Commissioners following their local consultations.

bullet Victims who activate the Community Trigger should be automatically referred to Victim Support for support, advice and advocacy (as currently happens with victims of crime).

bullet Greater support made available for victims whose case goes through the civil courts.

bullet The introduction of a national minimum standard for anti-social behaviour support.

bullet More accessible information for victims about reporting anti-social behaviour and how to get help.

Established in 2013, ASB Help’s remit is to help and advise victims of anti-social behaviour wherever they may be in England and Wales, primarily through informing them and signposting them to the appropriate local agency to help them deal with the problem they are experiencing. If you have any questions about the attached report please contact us.

PRESS RELEASE: Major gaps in support for victims of anti-social behaviour

Major gaps in support for victims of antisocial behaviour, report finds

Despite an estimated 8.2 million anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents taking place each year, less than a quarter (23%) of victims of antisocial behaviour in England, and only 38% of victims in Wales have access to the support services they need, a report by the charity ASB Help reveals.

The ground-breaking research provides the first comprehensive map of the independent anti-social behaviour support available to victims across England and Wales. The report highlights the value of the practical help and emotional support that is being provided through locally-commissioned Victim Support projects in some areas.

In Newcastle, Leeds, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Tower Hamlets dedicated anti-social behaviour teams are working with victims while in 25 other areas Victim Support is providing ‘Victims Champions’ to help people cope with their experiences. However, the patchy provision and funding across the country means that a staggering 43 million people do not have access to such specialist independent antisocial behaviour services.

The report by ASB Help calls for a national minimum standard of support for antisocial behaviour victims, for local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners to fund more local projects, and greater support for victims who are seeking redress through the civil courts. It also suggests that new government anti-social behaviour legislation would be improved if victims were given a clearer route to getting help.

Jennifer Herrera, Chief Executive Officer of ASB Help said: “Resolving anti-social behaviour often requires a multi-agency response and lines can be blurred as to who has responsibility for acting. Sometimes no one acts and the victim continues to suffer in silence. We believe an independent victim-focused point of contact like Victim Support ASB Champions is crucial for a victim-centred approach to tackling anti-social behaviour. We have confidence in signposting victims to such a service but this report shows that in many areas we do not have that option. We believe this urgently needs to change.”

Adam Pemberton, Assistant Chief Executive of the charity Victim Support said: “Antisocial behaviour can take on many forms, from littering and drunkenness to verbal abuse and threatening behaviour. It is often persistent and can shatter people’s lives and have a negative impact on the communities in which they live. “It’s clear from the findings of this report that there are massive gaps in support for people who are affected by antisocial behaviour, which must be addressed. A consistent approach to tackling this is needed. Agencies need to work together and learn from each other to ensure victims no longer fall through the gaps and have to cope with the torment of antisocial behaviour alone.”

Ends

About ASB Help

ASB Help is a national UK charity seeking to assist victims of anti-social behaviour as to their rights – who they should report the anti-social behaviour to and crucially, what to do if they do not get a satisfactory response. Some areas of the UK have excellent resources to help victims of anti-social behaviour, including dedicated helplines. To find out more about ASB help visit: http://asbhelp.co.uk/

About Victim Support

Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. Last year we offered support to more than 1 million victims of crime and helped more than 198,000 people as they gave evidence at criminal trials through our Witness Service. Victim Support also provides the Homicide Service supporting people bereaved through murder and manslaughter and runs more than 100 local projects which tackle domestic violence, antisocial behaviour and hate crime, help children and young people and deliver restorative justice. The charity has 1,400 staff and 4,300 volunteers and is celebrating its 40th anniversary during 2014. To find out more about Victim Support visit: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

ASB Help Report Effective Support November 2014

Tolerate Respect

A helpful poster I saw recently at Leicestershire Police Headquarters highlighted these two words when looking at anti-social behaviour – Tolerate (in this particular poster above the photo of an elderly person); Respect (above the young boy). At this time of year where incidents of anti-social behaviour traditionally increase thanks to Halloween and Bonfire Night, I think Tolerate Respect frames the debate nicely.

Tolerate

Earlier this year some research was published by the University of Cambridge entitled Generation Blame revealing an important disconnect in the interpretations of anti-social behaviour of adults and young people. Of particular note is the high percentage of adults who considered young people’s presence in public places as ASB regardless of their behaviour.

Having a bit of fun at Halloween, making some noise on the way to and from a fireworks display for Bonfire Night, is more often than not, harmless behaviour. We would not want people, especially young people, to choose to never spend time outdoors for fear they would be branded anti-social. It would make for eerily quiet streets. When looking at what constitutes anti-social behaviour we are careful to remind people to be reasonable.

Respect

Yet, there is an important flip side to this. It is easy for harmless behaviour to cross a line and become intimidating, and cause harassment, alarm, distress, a nuisance. Those out having fun need to remember to do so within the constraints of the law and not use it as an excuse to act in an inappropriate manner. When this happens against people who already feel intimidated by the individuals in question, the situation can bring real misery.

Whatever our personal opinions of Halloween or Bonfire Night, the police and other agencies are on the alert to make sure those who enjoy these occasions do so in an appropriate way and that anti-social behaviour is dealt with swiftly. The new anti-social behaviour legislation has been designed to put victims first and protect them from those who will use any excuse to cause problems – this is as true at this time of year as any other.

Trigger Happy

We welcome the introduction today of legislation designed to put victims of anti-social behaviour first. We sincerely hope that victims will indeed feel like they are being put first as agencies implement the new tools. We are very interested to hear from victims about their experiences.

We are particularly optimistic about the Community Trigger – a tool that will enable victims to require a case review by a multi-agency group including the Police and Council if they have reported incidents of anti-social behaviour 3 times or more in the past 6 months without an adequate response (note: the exact threshold will differ from one local authority area to another).

These agencies will be required by law to report to victims on what is being done and any recommendations they have for the agency leading on the case. This tool has been designed because the government believes there are a number of victims experiencing these problems. We believe that is the case too. So will we become trigger happy, activating them and getting those results we have a right to expect?

There is certainly a need for it. 79% of respondents of our online survey report that they are still waiting for a resolution to the anti-social behaviour they are suffering; 72% of people accessing our Act Now! guide have reported the ASB 3 times or more. However, it would seem unlikely that we will become trigger happy as the report from Trigger Pilots in specific areas of the country indicated: very little take-up though positive responses from victims who did activate it.

We believe there are 3 main reasons we can’t expect a flurry of triggers to be activated:

1.Complexity of it – each local area has a different threshold and as soon as you get into the explanation of how and when you cross this threshold, you may have lost some victims. That key message needs to get across first and foremost – if you are reporting anti-social behaviour but not being helped, or just being passed from one agency to another, the Trigger exists for you.

2. No funds for promoting it – Councils may often be the main point of contact but they do not have a budget to heavily promote it to the public in their local area. Funding cuts means local authority bulletins going out to every household are a thing of the past in many areas. Just sticking the Trigger somewhere on their website is not going to help many victims – those who do not have Internet access and those not keen on navigating their way through pages of text on Council websites!

3. No independent voice – we are optimistic that the Community Trigger can identify areas of bad practice amongst agencies – but if these same agencies are the points of contact this is going to be a real challenge. If a victim is struggling to get anywhere with their local authority because the local authority is unresponsive, it is unlikely that this same local authority is going to point the victim towards the Trigger.

We hope the Home Office will take a strong lead in getting the word out about the Community Trigger. We hope too that the media will give it some exposure – so far it has not been highlighted as other tools such as the Community Remedy have taken prominence.

We are compiling a Community Trigger Directory here and hope to raise awareness for victims. We are delighted to have this tool as victims contact us after years of suffering anti-social behaviour who seem to have reported it in vain. We are heartily recommending the Community Trigger and hope to get that all-important contact page for each area so that victims are equipped with all the necessary information to activate the Trigger.

Please email admin@asbhelp.co.uk with your local Community Trigger webpage if we don’t yet have it included in our Directory.

Poised for Change as New Legislation Comes into Play

So here we are in October and change is afoot. Later this month we will see the (almost) full enforcement of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 with its new streamlined tools, designed to put victims first (we understand that the Civil Injunction has been delayed due to the need to make changes first to the legal aid system). I wrote in Westminster Briefings last December when the Bill was passing through Parliament, that although the Bill was designed to put the victim first, they already seemed to be on the sidelines with no big lobbying groups to speak out for them.

Thankfully many MPs and members of the Lords shared real-life stories from their constituencies of the misery that ASB can inflict. But now the Bill is law, and agencies are trying to get a handle on how to use the new tools, will those individual voices still be heard? We come to this month with anticipation and hope that things will get better for victims of ASB, particularly those who are most vulnerable and have been suffering persistent anti-social  behaviour over a number of years.

There are a couple of new tools very much focused on hearing the victim – the Community Remedy (allowing the victim to participate in choosing what action(s) the perpetrator should undertake to made amends for their behaviour) and the Community Trigger (allowing victims to require the agencies in their area to undertake a case review where they have complained at least 3 times in 6 months and not seen any action taken to prevent the ASB).

We are optimistic about  the Community Trigger in particular but will be watching with great interest as to how it is utilised in practice. How well will it be publicised so that victims actually get to hear about it, especially those victims scared to leave their homes because of the anti-social behaviour they  are experiencing? Will they be given a wide selection of options for how to activate the Trigger rather than just a switchboard number or formal address to write to (intimidating for many victims who may rarely write letters never mind to explain the complexities of ASB suffered)?

Very few Local Authorities have chosen to launch their Community Trigger early – we are compiling a Directory of Community Triggers so I hope that by the end of this month it is rather more populated than the current situation. With the new tools, designed to result in faster results, will they be as fast and effective as promised? How widely will they be used? Will agencies take the plunge and start trying them out immediately? Ultimately … will victims get the respite they need? We want to be a voice for victims of anti-social behaviour and will watch with great interest how the new legislation unfolds, hopeful of evidence that the situation improves substantially for victims.

The First National Voice for Victims of Anti-Social Behaviour

Press Release: The First National Voice for Victims of Anti-Social Behaviour

It’s High Time Victims of Anti-social Behaviour received help to know their rights and get results.

ASB Help has launched what it believes to be the first national charity focused on providing information and advice to victims of anti-social behaviour. Motivated by the tragedy of Fiona Pilkington who in 2007 took her own life and that of her daughter’s after police ignored her 33 pleas for help, ASB Help seeks to provide an impartial voice for vulnerable victims across the country and make sure the new legislation works in their favour.

Baroness Newlove, herself a victim of anti-social behaviour which resulted in the tragic death of her husband, has expressed her delight at the launch of this service acknowledging that “no one should have to suffer its [ASB] consequences in silence but unfortunately there are still so many people doing just that”.

ASB Help reports that although in its early stages it is already receiving evidence of such suffering – over a third of respondents to the charity’s online survey state they have reported the issue more than three times and 76% of respondents state their problem, although reported, has not yet been resolved. In fact, only 6% report a satisfactory resolution to the issue.

“It’s particularly concerning” commented CEO Jenny Herrera, “to see a survey respondent state they believe there is a hate incident against them and yet they either didn’t know they should have gone to the police, or they have and the harassment continues”. ASB Help hopes to guide victims of anti-social behaviour so that they can report it to the right agency in the right way and as the charity grows, provide much needed personal support to those who feel no one’s listening or are suffering in silence.