Anti-social behaviour tool for victims in some areas a pointless bureaucratic exercise
Just ahead of the two year anniversary of the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a new report finds how one legal power in particular is not fit for purpose. The new Act aimed to put victims first and in particular bring swift respite to victims of persistent anti-social behaviour.
The Community Trigger, also called the ASB Case Review, was designed to empower victims, enabling them to insist on a multi-agency case review to get results and stop the behaviour that was having such a devastating attack on their lives. The report, entitled “Community Trigger. Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise?” by charity ASB Help calls for a re-evaluation of how the Community Trigger is being interpreted by local authority areas to ensure the statutory guidance is followed with particular regard to its accessibility and promotion to reach the most vulnerable victims.
The key issues are that:
there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;
there has been limited publicity of the Community Trigger meaning that many victims who would be entitled to activate it are unaware of its existence;
statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and
data on its usage is very difficult to obtain and effectively compare
Jennifer Herrera, Chief Executive Officer of ASB Help said: “In October 2014 we welcomed the introduction of the Community Trigger as an important form of empowerment for victims who are not being heard by local agencies. Unfortunately, it has not been championed locally and victims are still left to suffer. We believe that another case like that of Fiona Pilkington (who killed herself and her daughter Francecca after suffering ongoing harassment and not receiving support from local agencies) could easily happen again without important changes to the Trigger. There is potential but work needs to be done to make it more accessible and improve agency attitudes towards its purpose.”
To read the full report: http://asbhelp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Community-Trigger-Empowerment-or-Bureaucratic-Exercise-Sept16.pdf
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. The charity is represented on the Home Office Anti-Social Behaviour Advisory Board. To find out more about ASB help visit: http://asbhelp.co.uk/ For media enquiries, contact CEO Jenny Herrera, firstname.lastname@example.org 0203 5030797
“You can’t let these people win” Sharon, Basildon
Northlands Park in Basildon has been the site of a number of crimes in recent months. Most recently some ducks from the lake were shot and beheaded and the dead ducks left on a wall outside a block of flats for kids to see on their way to school. Following a mugging, sexual assault and rape (though this was later retracted) Imelda Clancy, the Independence councillor for Pitsea North West, branded the park unsafe for people to go alone.
She openly complained about the police feeling they are not doing enough. Interviewed on BBC Radio Essex with James Whale on Tuesday 22nd September, she reiterated this opinion. When James Whale spoke to one of the victims, though, who had been assaulted when running through the park, listeners heard a very different perspective: “It is very worrying but equally you can’t let these people win. I think common sense has to prevail – I still go to the park, I still jog. If I’m going there early morning or late at night I buddy up with someone.”
She is taking precautions but not giving in to the situation. In her experience the police have been very supportive to her. She doesn’t expect them to be in the park all the time and in her personal opinion, given the police cuts, she thinks they are doing what they can.
When we hear from an actual victim who feels supported by the police and wants common sense to prevail we would suggest that the Councillor’s comments could lead to a ‘broken window effect’ whereby people avoid the park and then anti-social behaviour is allowed to increase there until it becomes a no-go area and affects the local neighbourhood. ASB Help suggests the residents around Northlands Park choose to fight as a community and be determined that anti-social behaviour will not rule. If residents fight, agencies will have to take notice and act.
There are some simple ways to make the park safer such as better lighting and CCTV in key places. We would would also advise individuals to read our guidance here if they feel frightened. We also have a case study of where some Bed and Breakfast owners in Scarborough in North Yorkshire were able to turn their local area around as residents. We hope this will encourage residents in difficult areas of what you can achieve if you come together as a group. Stay safe but do not give into fear. Avoiding the park is not the answer. We believe the answer lies with residents making their voice heard and applying appropriate pressure on police and Council where action should be taken.
Do not forget that Essex police recently admitted they only attend 3% of anti-social incidents and expect the Council to be picking up the rest. The council has the same powers to improve public spaces, like a park, as the police (see Public Spaces Protection Order).