Putting Victims First. More Effective Response to Anti-Social Behaviour

Summary of the Report

The Need

In recognition of the fact that the old approach to anti-social behaviour wasn’t working, with more than half of ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) breached and many of them repeatedly, a consultation was undertaken amongst victims to discover what they wanted to see happen.

Their response was:

1. That their problem be taken seriously

2. An efficient service and a quick response

3. The problem to stop and not happen again.

The aim of this report/White Paper is to help make that happen and was an important precursor to the drafting of the 2013 Anti-Social Behaviour Bill.

The Government Response

Seeking to take on board the needs of the victims, the government has put forward the following four main approaches to address the concerns of victims:

1. Local agencies must focus their response to anti-social behaviour on the needs of victims

This is about helping agencies to identify and support high risk victims, in particular through the work done on call handling: see our summary and analysis of the call handling trials here. It also includes giving frontline professionals more freedom in applying restorative or reparative approaches and improving the way anti-social behaviour is measured in the Crime Survey for England and Wales so that it is based more on people’s actual experiences rather than perceptions.

2. Support people and communities is establishing what is and isn’t acceptable locally and in holding agencies to account

This will be done primarily through the Community Trigger. For more information about this see our evaluation of the Community Trigger pilots here. This section also includes Community Harm Statements which is a tool designed to make it easier for social landlords to demonstrate the impact of anti-social behaviour through the use of a recognised template to provide evidence to court in a consistent way to show the impact of harm on the community.

3. Ensure professionals have the powers they need to deal with the persistent anti-social behaviour which causes serious harm to victims or their community

The old 19 tools to deal with anti-social behaviour are to be streamlined to just 6. See here for the list of these new tools and our summary and analysis of each one.

4. Focus on long term solutions to anti-social behaviour by addressing the issues that drive much of it in the first place.

These issues are binge drinking, drug use, mental health issues, troubled family backgrounds and irresponsible dog ownership.

Our Analysis

There is a lot of potential in these new approaches and we particularly welcome the serious attempt to focus on the victim, especially highlighting the importance of appropriate call handling as well as putting in place some tools which will really help empower victims, especially the community trigger.

This White Paper underpins all current developments in the anti-social behaviour field and as such much of our analysis can be found through our page on ‘What the Law Says’ or in the Publications on the Call Handling Trials and the Community Trigger pilots. Perhaps worth mentioning here is our thoughts on the plan to improve the way anti-social behaviour is recorded in the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

We hope that through our own online survey we can build up a comprehensive database that is completely independent of government and will show people’s actual experiences, not just of the anti-social behaviour they are experiencing but crucially of their good and bad experiences of reporting that behaviour to the relevant agencies. We believe this will be far more useful than simply recording types of anti-social behaviour experienced in the Crime Survey because it will show where the authorities are failing victims and hopefully lead to an improved service and better care for those suffering the effects of anti-social behaviour.