Tag Archives: legislation

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.

One Year On – Trigger Thoughts

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 coming into force. Legislation that promised a louder voice for victims and swifter respite from the effects of anti-social behaviour.

A year ago I asked whether, with reference to the Community Trigger or Anti-social Behaviour Case Review, we would all become Trigger Happy. Perhaps the first thing to comment is that we don’t actually know the answer to this, but suspect it very unlikely!

Each area is obliged to report each year on how many Community Triggers have been activated and how many actually met the criteria for a Trigger. Yet we are not aware of any central body collating this information or analysing it. We have seen a few Local Authority websites state how many Triggers had been activated up to March 2015 (best practice) but the majority leave us guessing. Worse than that, some Local Authority websites still do not make any reference to the Community Trigger – we will not be surprised to find none activated there. A response like this:

We suggest that people contact our Customer Quality team, who then raise it with the heads of service.

makes me want to cry. How will victims of persistent anti-social behaviour realise that hidden behind the standard customer quality team complaints process, is a tool designed specifically for them, enabling them to demand a multi-agency review of their case?

We have requested feedback from people who make use of the Community Trigger and the responses we have had confirm the concerns we raised a year ago. In particular, the lack of an independent voice is real cause for concern. There are some notable exceptions – London Borough of Hillingdon who has decided a Victim Support volunteer will be involved in every Trigger case and represent the victim at the meeting (http://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/29903/Community-Trigger) – but feedback from victims in other parts of the country indicate a closed process with a written response at the end of it to state ‘all procedures were followed’. A far cry from government’s intention that victims would be put first and issues would be resolved quicker.

It is worth noting that other powers in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 are being put to good use. The Closure Order in particular has been effective – this month it was Northumbria Police’s turn to grant its first (http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/crime/police-use-new-weapon-to-board-up-south-shields-drug-den-1-7496399) following a steady stream of other forces. Worth mentioning too the successful use of the Community Trigger in South Gloucestershire though the focus is on the Closure Order once more.

We are glad these residents knew about the Trigger and used it – they might still be suffering otherwise … With no national promotion, nor media interest, local promotion has usually been minimal or non-existent. We will push for a review of the Community Trigger – introduced properly, it has the power to improve the lives of hundreds of victims of anti-social behaviour. Hidden behind closed doors it is no use to anyone.

Jenny Herrera CEO