Tag Archives: Community Trigger

Dispute Despair

Absolutely nothing was done.  It all still continues.  We are either ignored or treated as perpetrators.’  ‘Jack’, London

This is Jack’s side of the story:

No action has ever been taken against my neighbours who continues a 2 year campaign of every instance of ASB imaginable against both my household and another tenant in the property of 3 flats.  We have both continually provided evidence of this woman’s ASB but are both continually ignored by our Housing Association and the police.  In fact, the Housing Association gives this woman their full support by believing without question or investigation of any kind every lie and false allegation she continually makes about my neighbour and I.

Jack has been threatened with an Injunction for something he didn’t do which he said was without any investigation and purely based on the other party’s complaint.

The list of behaviour Jack has suffered is long and horrible:

  • racial abuse
  • damage to their car
  • brick through their window
  • dog poisoned
  • hundreds of live maggots thrown onto their steps and flat door area several nights in a row
  • verbal abuse
  • accusations of drug dealing
  • stealing their post
  • filming them 24/7
  • taking photos of them

Jack has been told that the Housing Association is aware of the neighbour’s behaviour, attributable to mental health.  However, it doesn’t make sense as why they would threaten Jack with an injunction.

Neighbour Dispute

To ASB practitioners, this may sound all too familiar.  The complexities of a neighbour dispute – who to believe and who is doing what.  How can someone contacting us as a victim be seen by the Housing Association as a perpetrator?  Hear Jack’s cry:

Yesterday my neighbour and I received a letter from the Housing Association warning us of OUR ASB and highlighting how WE could be breaching our tenancy agreements  This letter has been generated by more lies from this woman and yet again, without question or any investigation have been believed and taken as truth by the Housing Association.  Where is the help for people like us who have someone like this woman using and totally abusing the system to wreak havoc, cause misery and distress and invoke fear into innocent people?

What is really going on?

Our Comments

When we hear a story like this our initial reaction is deep concern at the way Jack is being treated.  Yet, we are also well aware that there are always two sides to the story.

The agencies acknowledge that there are complications in acting due to mental health.  Yet they then give warnings of injunctions without investigation to Jack. This seems incompletely inconsistent.  This is clearly some missing information on what is happening but there are some important factors to highlight from this story.

  1.  We would recommend to Jack that he activate the Community Trigger.  This would mean that all agencies, including the Housing Association, the local Council and the police, can come together to review Jack’s case.  Jack should request a clear response from that review of where mistakes have been made (perhaps insufficient investigation, lack of mental health support) and what else can be done to resolve the problems.  (Activating the Community Trigger can sometime give the support you need to get a house move as part of resolving the problem.)

2.  This case is a classic example of a Neighbour Dispute and ultimately it has been left to deteriorate into a tangled mess.  This is why it is so important for agencies to take early action and investigate early complaints – see this Housing Association example: http://asbhelp.co.uk/can-read-write/.  We wonder whether mediation was ever offered and how responsive the Housing Association really was when Jack first expressed his concern.



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.

The Community Trigger. Empowerment or Bureaucratic Exercise?

ASB Help has launched a report after considerable research into the Community Trigger. The report asks whether this power has created the intended empowerment for victims or whether in practice it is nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise. Please see below for the Executive Summary. The full report can be read here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Community-Trigger-Empowerment-or-Bureaucratic-Exercise-Sept16.pdf

Executive Summary

In May 2012 the Home Office issued a White Paper entitled ‘Putting Victims First: more effective responses to anti-social behaviour’. This was a precursor to the development of the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. In her foreword, the Home Secretary at the time (our current Prime Minister) stated that the government wanted to empower victims and communities. It is worth quoting the full paragraph here:

We want to empower victims and communities. Too often people in a local area are desperate to have the behaviour that’s blighting their neighbourhood dealt with, they just don’t know how to get the authorities to take action. Elected Police and Crime Commissioners and neighbourhood beat meetings will help, but we will support local communities by introducing a new Community Trigger to compel agencies to respond to persistent anti-social behaviour. We are working with a number of leading local areas, including Manchester, West Lindsey and Brighton & Hove to trial the trigger this year.[1]

Following a long tradition in the field of anti-social behaviour, no plans were put in place to evaluate the effectiveness of legislation brought in to address the issues identified in the White Paper. This report specifically analyses the way in which the Community Trigger has been introduced in law, interpreted around the country, and utilised in practice. It will indicate a wide breadth of usage and a situation that falls far short of the aim of empowering victims. In many cases, we would suggest it is nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise, creating more paperwork, draining already tight resources, and yet still not bringing desperately-needed respite for victims.

Specific issues we have identified in this report are that:

bullet there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;

bullet there has been limited does cialis work with alcohol publicity of the Community Trigger meaning that many victims who would be entitled to activate it are unaware of its existence;

bullet statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and

bullet data on its usage is very difficult to obtain and effectively compare.

Alongside these issues, we are concerned that victims are not being properly represented or heard in the case reviews that do take place. Fundamentally, victims of anti-social behaviour are not being put first.

ASB Help was set up after the landmark case of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca in 2007 in desperation after police failed to adequately respond to her 33 calls to report harassment. The Community Trigger should be a power that can prevent another case like the Pilkington one occurring. Without some important changes to the way it is being both interpreted and used in practice, we believe another Fiona Pilkington could easily happen again. We believe she would not have known it existed given the lack of promotion and if in her area the only way of activating the Trigger was through the Police by calling 101 it is highly unlikely she would have had the emotional strength to try that given all her past difficult experiences of calling that very same number. There is potential in the Trigger but work needs to be done to make it more accessible and improve agency attitudes towards its purpose.

[1] Home Office. Putting Victims First. More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour. May 2012, page 3

NEWS RELEASE: Community Trigger fails to empower

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:

bullet there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;

bullet 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;

bullet statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and

bullet 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, jherrera@asbhelp.co.uk 0203 5030797

Why me?

This is having a profound effect upon my life and feels extremely unfair.” ‘Amber’, London

The cry of ‘Why me?’ is a common one in all areas of crime and anti-social behaviour. We would also suggest it is not a helpful route of thought to take. That is because there is often no answer to the question. Why do some people go through life never experiencing any anti-social behaviour? Why do others get unlucky with where they live, either with their neighbours or more generally in the local area? Why should someone have to invest time in sorting out a problem they never looked for?

Yet, to get results in ASB and bring peace back to your home, you will have to. The best thing is to accept this fact and channel your frustration and perhaps even anger into getting results. ‘Amber’ is a victim of noise disturbance as well as littering and verbal aggression and abuse. The music is loud enough to hurt her ears and the slamming and stamping is so severe the walls shake. Her experience on reporting ASB is that the agencies move the problem back and forth. Police refer her to the Council ASB team, the Council ASB team refer her to the Police, Environmental Health to the ASB team and so on.

I am stressed and cannot relax in my own home. I get very little sleep and have had to use annual leave at short notice sometimes after being kept awake – until 5am some days. I feel the system is weighted toward the tenants who cannot be evicted all that quickly despite non-payment of rent. This is having a profound effect upon my life and feels extremely unfair. Why should my work reputation and employment and health be at risk because of the behaviour of these people?”

Our Comments

Amber is quite right. Why should her work and health be at risk because of the ASB of these people? It is not right that she is being passed from one agency to another when there is new legislation in place to make it easier to act. The agencies MUST decide who is going to take the lead on this case and use the tools available to them. Environmental Health can look at a noise abatement order, the ASB team an Injunction perhaps. We would advise Amber not to dwell on the ‘Why me?’ question and instead carry on fighting. Tenants can be evicted more easily now if they do not respond to warnings. Don’t let agencies fob you off. Be persistent and force a case review by activating the Community Trigger.

Housing Association failure

Every organisation has been helpful but not my landlords.” Edward, Essex

Noise which has turned into harassment is pushing Edward into deep despair. He shares of his feelings of frustration, unhappiness, mistrust, helplessness, anger and loneliness which is with him every day. Add to that tiredness – the mental and physical fatigue with the anti-social behaviour itself as well as with the lack of answers to solve the problem.

What started as slamming fire doors has developed to his neighbours making intimidating war cries when he turns his TV or kettle on, cheering when he leaves the house and giggling when a drill was turned on at 1:30am.

Edward has turned to his Housing Association to get results and has been met with sheer incompetence and apathy. They have lost a diary he submitted last year, say they will visit the neighbour but do not, and say that they have visited Edward but he was there and heard no knock, and in any case they could have pressed the buzzer instead. They have been obstructive at every turn.

It sounds like the landlord isn’t too bothered to really investigate the situation. Edward sums it up: “every organisation has been helpful but not my landlords.”

Edward now listens to his TV with headphones or subtitles and goes out to the library or anywhere but home.

Our Analysis

This is clearly wrong. Edward is in deep despair but the Housing Association has shown a complete failure to act. The victim is being ignored, fobbed off, probably because they know intervention will create a lot of work. That is NOT a reason not to act.

We would definitely recommend that Edward activate the Community Trigger. By activating this multi-agency case review, we would expect to find the Council and Police making strong recommendations to the Housing Association to address this anti-social behaviour and bring much-needed respite to Edward.

Church Challenge

How can you deal with something out of your control? I have a very stressful job and need my rest. ‘Alice’, London

Noise nuisance is not just an issue between neighbours in residential houses. Some of us are unlucky enough to live next to particularly noisy premises – and these aren’t always what you might think. ‘Alice’ has a church hall behind her property. The problem doesn’t lie with its normal Sunday morning services, however, but when they hire the hall out on weekends. Then it becomes a venue for all-night parties.

Alice has had meetings and discussions with the church and they have previously been given abatement notices but they are failing to follow the rules and seem to ignore advice from the local authority and police. Alice has even suffered harassment by text message as a result of requesting the volume of music be turned down. This has been ongoing now for 3 years.

Alice expresses her frustration eloquently: “How can you deal with something that is out of your control? I have a very stressful and responsible job. I need my rest and when people have been warned and given advice yet it still continues the only way is to keep reporting it, but if that doesn’t work, what can I do? It is extremely frustrating and not fair that I have to live with it.”

Alice gets very anxious, her health has been affected and she gets very angry that she has followed all the steps to get the situation resolved yet nothing is working.

Alice should not have to suffer in this way – if the church is ignoring warning and abatement notices, there is more that agencies can do such as issue fines or seize the sound equipment (such as occurred this week in York: http://www.minsterfm.com/news/local/1995442/action-on-noisy-neighbours-in-york/). Activating the Community Trigger could force the agencies to take that next step.

System Failures are Letting Too Many ASB Perpetrators off the Hook


Current anti-social behaviour policies continue to fail victims, says support charity ASB Help

18 months on from the introduction of a power designed to support victims of persistent anti-social behaviour in England and Wales and those people are still being fundamentally failed by the system, says victim advice charity ASB Help.

A YouGov Poll commissioned by the charity, which provides support for and signposts victims of anti-social behaviour in England and Wales to advice and guidance, showed that whilst 32% of people have experienced anti-social behaviour, only 3% have heard of the ‘Community Trigger’ and fewer than 1% have used it.

The Community Trigger was introduced as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in October 2014 to give victims the power to request a multi-agency review of their ASB complaint if they feel a satisfactory outcome hasn’t been achieved. But, says ASB Help chief executive Jenny Herrera, despite a legal requirement for local authorities and other agencies to highlight the availability of the Community Trigger and report on its use, very few people even know it exists:

“We have spent two years gathering anecdotal information of people’s experiences of anti-social behaviour across England and Wales, with the ultimate goal of giving victims a voice both in their local area and at a national level to support a lobby for change,” Jenny says.

“We have also spent the last eighteen months trying to establish the effectiveness of the Community Trigger in supporting victims. At almost every turn we have come up against a brick wall. Police forces report anti-social behaviour incidents but they are not accredited National Statistics and each force may record them in a different way. Local authorities and other bodies to whom ASB is reported have no legal requirement at all to report instances of ASB. Although it is the legal responsibility of local authorities and other agencies to report how often the Community Trigger has been activated in their area, the reality we have experienced is that there is no consistency in recording and reporting from region to region. This makes it impossible to either get a complete picture of anti-social behaviour in England and Wales or to know whether the trigger has been used, let alone how effective it has been. “As a result, many victims of ASB still find themselves at the mercy of a postcode lottery with nowhere to turn to resolve the very real – and in some cases life threatening – issues that are making their lives a misery. It also means that many ASB perpetrators are being too easily let off the hook.”

Jenny says that she hears the stories of hundreds of people whose experiences of anti-social behaviour are being ignored or unsatisfactorily dealt with by the authorities: “Almost ten years since Fiona Pilkington’s tragic suicide was seen as a turning point in the way anti-social behaviour is dealt with by the authorities, I don’t feel that we are very much further forward and I believe a case like this one could very easily happen again.”

ASB Help is calling on the government to put its weight behind the charity’s campaign to extract Community Trigger data from local authorities and other public bodies. Jenny says this will at the least begin to shed some light on the extent of the anti-social behaviour problem in England and Wales, as well as how effectively it is currently being dealt with. “We are working with the Home Office and anti-social behaviour agency partners to step up our campaign and work towards our joint goals of helping ASB victims to be heard and campaigning for effective change that will transform the lives of thousands of people across England and Wales.”


People who have experienced anti-social behaviour and would like advice, guidance or support can visit www.asbhelp.co.uk.

Notes to editors: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,018 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd and 24th February 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The survey defined “anti-social behaviour” as when a person behaves in a way which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people who are not from their household.

Why the community trigger is failing: the ASB Help view

The Community Trigger is the term generally applied to the Response to Complaints section of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in October 2014. If someone has made a complaint about anti-social behaviour in a particular local government area, the relevant bodies in that area must carry out an ASB case review if that person, or anyone else, requests one (i.e. activates the Community Trigger) and the relevant bodies decide that the threshold for a review is met. The review will focus either on the ongoing anti-social behaviour about which the original complaint was made or on the adequacy of the response to that behaviour. Either way, victims should see a full, independent review of their complaint. In our view, the key issues are that:

  • There is no definitive guidance as to what the threshold for review should be. Each local authority area sets its own threshold. The most common threshold is likely to be if someone has complained three times in a six-month period and feels nothing has been done, but this is only a minimum, others may interpret it differently, which contributes to the existing postcode lottery.
  • Each local authority must specify the point of contact for activating the Community Trigger and ensure that applications made to that point of contact are passed on to all the relevant bodies in the local government area. The statutory guidelines advise that this information is made clear and that there be a number of ways of activating the trigger. In our experience, the availability and prominence of information on local authority and other relevant websites and literature are at best inconsistent and, at worst, well hidden.
  • Under the 2014 Act, bodies who carry out an ASB case review must inform the applicant of the outcome of the review and any recommendations made. We see little evidence of this happening in practice. These bodies are also obliged to publish every year how many triggers have been activated and how many case reviews have been carried out. Accessing this information is extremely difficult and some Community Safety Partnerships have treated it as a Freedom of Information request rather than a statutory requirement! Those that do publish it (we have only found 19% of Councils have done this) use a wide variety of time periods and none, making comparison of data almost impossible.


Passing the Buck

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise. The Council have told me they cannot help.” ‘Janet’, Cheshire.

Many victims of anti-social behaviour complain about how they are passed from one agency to other. In some areas of the country agencies seem very keen to pass the buck and let someone else deal cheap online pharmacy with the issue. In worst cases, a victim is passed back and forth between two agencies (frequently Council or Housing Association and the Police) with no action being taken by either of them. For this reason we set up our Act Now! Guide to help you go to the right agency for the problem you are experiencing. However, you may need determination and perseverance to get results as ‘Janet’ in Cheshire discovered.

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise” she explained. “This has later included intimidating behaviour. I am at the end of my tether and I do not know what else I can do. My health has deteriorated. My self-confidence has been shot to pieces. I do not feel able to open the door unless I know someone is coming. I do not go out into the garden. I keep all my windows and blinds shut constantly.

A noise issue, Janet correctly contacted the Council, even more appropriate because  the perpetrators are also Council tenants. Since first reporting it, she has clearly been given the run around from the Council. They ignored her complaints for over a year until neighbours on the other side also complained. 9 months after that there was a promise of sound-proofing but this is no longer happening and the Council never bothered to inform Janet about this. The last time she called, the ASB Officer was away on 3 weeks annual leave and no one else could help her.

Is it any wonder Janet says “a happy peaceful sanctuary of your own home is no longer possible as no-one cares“? Indeed she now says “the Council have told me they cannot help“.

Our Comments

First of all, the Council cannot possibly be allowed to say they can’t help when they are exactly the agency to deal with their own tenants and noise issues. If the Council is doing nothing, we believe Janet should activate her local Community Trigger and insist on a case review. This would also bring the Police to the table to discuss the situation, especially important given there is intimidation involved too. We cannot let the agencies that are there to protect and assist us be allowed to fob us off, pass the buck, and do nothing. Keep sharing your stories so we can shout louder.

Don’t Bite Back

“Just keep at it and keep reporting it. I don’t bite or get involved. They can shout and threaten me but I don’t react to it, just report it when I get in.” ‘John’, Sheffield

‘John’ bought his first floor flat because it was for over 55s and very quiet. However, the flat below is rented out by a Housing Association to a young girl with partner and child. She has taken over the communal garden as her own and has a number of visitors to the property and with it loud music and loud talking.

John and his partner have had a number of difficult tenants as neighbours in that house, including one who decided to have a cannabis farm and one whose baby was put on the ‘at risk’ register. It would seem the Housing Association is rather inept in their choice of tenants!

They don’t want to move, nor feel they should have to. It was lovely and quiet and the neighbours did look after each other until the problems began. Most of the older people are scared to say anything. He counts to 10 and takes deep breaths to keep calm before he leaves for work and again on his way home. Once home, he doesn’t go out again.

John’s actions and advice to other victims are both excellent:

Just keep at it and keep reporting it. I don’t bite or get involved. They can shout and threaten me but I don’t react to it, just report it when I get in. Depending on how severe it is either the police or the Housing Association.

We would also recommend activating the Community Trigger if the Housing Association refuses to act.