What have Police and Crime Commissioners got to do with anti-social behaviour?
Well, we would suggest they have quite a lot to do with it! Firstly, when they run for this elected post, they speak out about how they will help victims of both crime and anti-social behaviour. They also speak out about helping vulnerable people, and in our experience it is often vulnerable people who are suffering from persistent anti-social behaviour which is making their lives a misery.
The government agrees that PCCs have a role to play – in its white paper ‘Putting Victims First’ it stressed the fact that PCCs have a key role to play in holding local agencies to account for the way they respond to victims of anti-social behaviour.
This white paper led to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the statutory guidance required PCCs to be directly consulted in setting up the Community Trigger/ASB Case Review in their local area. Unfortunately the guidance falls short of requiring them to do anything further. They ‘may’ be directly involved in the procedure through auditing case reviews, receiving appeals and/or monitoring the process itself.
With no mandate, many Police and Crime Commissioners have chosen to ignore it completely. Clear evidence of this is how few PCC websites have a webpage explaining what the Community Trigger is and how to activate it.
Surely this is not too difficult to do?
Why should Police and Crime Commissioners promote the Community Trigger?
A review of each PCC’s Police and Crime Plans reveals the following:
63% (26/41)) of Police and Crime Plans have ‘Protecting the Vulnerable’ as one of their key priorities. The remaining 37% have mention of vulnerable victims within their plan. So 100% of Plans want to protect the vulnerable.
37% have a specific priority to tackle ASB. Sometimes this is included within ‘tackle crime and ASB’, in other cases it is specifically ASB.
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) often meet people in their surgeries who complain about problems with anti-social behaviour so are also aware of the problems on the ground with ongoing failings from local agencies to respond effectively.
Given the Police and Crime plans suggest protecting vulnerable victims is a priority for them we believe they should have information on their website to explain to people what the Community Trigger is and how they can activate it in their local area.
In June 2018 only 21% of PCC websites had this information available. This represents 9 PCCs. A further 4 PCCs had some information on their website about the Community Trigger but it was only focused on the appeals process, or just a press release about its introduction in 2014.
The 9 PCCs who had information for victims about the Community Trigger (also called ASB Case Review) were:
3. Devon and Cornwall
9. West Yorkshire
On some websites you can navigate to the Community Trigger from the Home Page. Derbyshire is a good example of this: https://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/Home.aspx where it can be found under the ‘Supporting Victims’ tab.
When PCC websites give links to how to activate the Community Trigger in each local area, they need to be sure the links are working since this same Derbyshire page contains faulty links.
Some good examples of how to set out a page on the Community Trigger can be found here:
Lincolnshire – https://lincolnshire-pcc.gov.uk/victim-services-and-information/community-trigger/ (However, arguably it would be more helpful to give a link to the appropriate page on each local authority website rather than to their home page.)
Warwickshire – https://www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/helpingyou/community-trigger/ (However, once you click through to the Safer in Warwickshire site, there are again faulty links)
Merseyside – https://www.merseysidepcc.info/home/down-to-business/community-trigger.aspx This has links that work and in some cases give a named contact for victims.
West Yorkshire – http://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/how-we-work/our-outcomes/tackle-crime-and-anti-social-behaviour/community-trigger.aspx This provides a succinct summary of the Community Trigger with working links.
ASB Help believes all victims of persistent anti-social behaviour should know that the Community Trigger exists and may be appropriate for them to use.
ASB Help believes PCCs are in a good position to help promote the Community Trigger and it meets their own priority of protecting vulnerable people.
At a minimum, ASB Help believes PCCs should have a clear page on their website to explain what the Community Trigger is and how it can be activated in their local area.
ASB Help also expects PCCs to take an interest where a victim is experiencing problems with the Community Trigger process and be willing to take an active role in ensuring the Community Trigger is functioning properly under their watch.
ASB Help will campaign for PCCs to promote the Community Trigger and will continue to refer to local PCC offices when approached by individual victims suffering from anti-social behaviour who have turned to the Community Trigger and yet the ASB continues.