Tag Archives: Community Remedy

Fundamental Flaw

We believe that there is a fundamental flaw underlying victim empowerment when individuals are dealing with such big organisations like Councils and social landlords.  The relationship is so unbalanced that it is easy to see how a victim could be ignored and feel powerless.

The Victim’s Voice

From our perspective, as a charity seeking to empower victims of anti-social behaviour, it is both sobering and deeply concerning to learn of how residents of Grenfell Tower sought to alert their Tenant Management Organisation to the fire risk of their tower block, but to no avail  This was not just one resident, one sole voice trying to ensure safety for their own home.  This was a group of residents, coming together to raise the alert.

Our website encourages victims of anti-social behaviour to not suffer in silence but to report the behaviour to the relevant authorities.  We suggest that if a number of people are affected, that they consider putting a petition together to make their voices louder.  We approach this with a positive attitude and optimism as to results.  A tragedy like that of Grenfell Tower fire makes it very difficult to retain that optimism.  It hints at a fundamental flaw in the rights of each individual in the UK.

The Most Vulnerable

Many have spoken of the fact that residents of Grenfell Tower were some of the poorer people in our society.  Some of the most vulnerable.  With a website dedicated to Fiona Pilkington, a small voice speaking up about harassment towards her and her daughter, it is easy to see how she was ignored and felt powerless to do anything about it, seeing the only alternative as taking her own life and that of her daughter.

So where does that leave the Community Trigger, and the Community Remedy, given that they have been designed to put victims first.  In the light of what we see at Grenfell, is the Community Trigger really providing empowerment for victims of persistent ASB or is it just lip-service to make it seem like victims are being put first.

The Localism Act 2011 gave local authorities a lot more power and authority over their own areas whilst the Audit Commission was disbanded and with it any central way of monitoring how local authorities are complying with the law and providing value for money.  Transparency International has highlighted the risk of corruption in their report: “Corruption in UK Local Government: The Mounting Risks”.

We have seen the lack of central monitoring of local government practice with the Community Trigger legislation – the Home Office no longer has any legal right to police what is happening at the local level.  No one seems to.  The statutory guidance to accompany the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is currently being revised, but however good it is, if no one is ensuring local Councils put it into practice, it is not going to be at all effective at improving the way the legislation is implemented.  This is surely a fundamental flaw in the whole process.

A Council may choose to follow the law and ensure there are transparent processes to protect victims  However, if a Council chose not to pay much attention to a victim, create new reasons why they couldn’t undertake a Community Trigger case review or just walk through the process without properly listening to the victim or investing much money, care or consideration to the case, what recourse does the victim really have?

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.