Tag Archives: victims

Victims being Failed

Stalking victims being failed, say watchdogs” (BBC on 5th July 2017)

Bijan Ebrahimi: Police ‘failed’ murdered man for years.” (BBC on 5th July 2017)

There is a familiar theme here in these 2 reports that came out last week.  One report was published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the other by HMIC (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary).  Both contain worrying conclusions of how victims are not being listened to and not properly protected.

This was also a message that came out of the tragic death of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francecca.  The Independent Police Complaints Commission concludedthat the police’s error in not identifying Fiona Pilkington and her children as a vulnerable family “lay at the core” of their failure to provide a cohesive and effective approach.  Incidents were too often dealt with by police officers in isolation and with an unstructured approach.

Victims being failed.  It is what we are hearing from the Grenfell Tower residents. Last week we heard it about victims of stalkers – that many victims are being failed with poorly run investigations and insufficient protection given to victims.  We also see how badly one vulnerable victim was treated in Bristol, with such a lack of support that he ultimately ended up losing his life as he sought to get evidence and find someone who would believe him and act to stop the anti-social behaviour he was suffering.

How many more Bijan Ebrahimis and Fiona Pilkingtons do we need to have before change is made?  What would that change look like?

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was designed to put victims first.  However, in practice, much of that seems to be just in word rather than deed.  Our biggest concern is that whatever powers are put in place in theory and through legislation to protect victims or give them a louder voice, in practice individual victims can still be ignored, or as in the case of Bijan Ebrahimi told to ‘Shut up’!

A victim or group of victims who are being ignored now have the ability to insist on a case review through the Community Trigger process.  Yet we know of a victim of stalking who felt she was being failed by the authorities and when she activated the Community Trigger was simply told a review had happened and ‘that all processes had been followed’.  However, she is still suffering and not receiving any support or protection.

The Appeal process for the Community Trigger often goes to the same agency that managed it in the first place.  This is a problem but there should also be no need for genuine victims to have to jump through so many hoops.  In some areas of England and Wales, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office is involved in managing Appeals.  When the Government’s White Paper: Putting Victims First was written, PCCs were specifically mentioned as people to whom victims could go for help.

In practice, and in our experience, the reality is far different.  Police and Crime Commissioners have no mandate to act in the area of anti-social behaviour so many do not.  Even when we have asked a PCC office about an individual, we are only told that they have called the local police and been assured that all necessary support has been offered.  Everything is taken at face value and no checks are done.

Without checks, how will we know who is being failed?  Only when the failure has been severe and the investigation done.  This is a serious problem in the whole system – not just in anti-social behaviour but across many spheres of public life. When members of the public cry out for help, what confidence can they have that their small voice will be heard when up again big organisations like the Council and the Police?  The solution cannot be more red tape and requiring more of already cash-strapped public services, yet there needs to be some better way of empowering victims in an effective way.

Independent Chair?

If someone in a situation like that of Bijan Ebrahimi approached us today, we would recommend they activate the Community Trigger which has been set up for victims who feel like they are being ignored by local agencies.  However, it is worth mentioning that in Bijan Ebrahimi’s case, the Community Trigger probably would not have yielded results unless there was an independent member of the panel.

If he was known to the main agencies, including the police and the Council, it is easy to see how they might skew a case review right from the outset by saying that the victim is a persistent complainant.  We believe the Community Trigger (also known as ASB Case Review) would have so much more potential power if it was chaired by someone independent from the whole case, trained to critically challenge the evidence and any bias.  To have that independent perspective could have shed crucial light onto the situation and made a real difference.

 

Effective Support for Anti-Social Behaviour Victims

Today we are launching a new report looking at Victim Support’s work with the victims of anti-social behaviour. ASB Help Report Effective Support November 2014

The aim of this research was to establish the availability of Victim Support services across the country and to gain an understanding of the nature of the support available.

We found:

bullet Only 23% of the population in England and Wales have access to specialist Victim Support anti-social behaviour services.

bullet The characteristics of the support available vary greatly from place to place in funding, scope, and profile.

bullet An independent point of contact – as used in the ‘ASB Champion’ service model – is of huge value to victims of anti-social behaviour in reducing the complexities of getting help.

Our recommendations include:

bullet Priority in commissioning for victims of anti-social behaviour should be given to specific victim-focused support, preferably independent of the local or statutory authorities.

bullet Increased sharing of best-practice both within and between local authorities.

bullet Increased sharing of best-practice between Police and Crime Commissioners following their local consultations.

bullet Victims who activate the Community Trigger should be automatically referred to Victim Support for support, advice and advocacy (as currently happens with victims of crime).

bullet Greater support made available for victims whose case goes through the civil courts.

bullet The introduction of a national minimum standard for anti-social behaviour support.

bullet More accessible information for victims about reporting anti-social behaviour and how to get help.

Established in 2013, ASB Help’s remit is to help and advise victims of anti-social behaviour wherever they may be in England and Wales, primarily through informing them and signposting them to the appropriate local agency to help them deal with the problem they are experiencing. If you have any questions about the attached report please contact us.

PRESS RELEASE: Major gaps in support for victims of anti-social behaviour

Major gaps in support for victims of antisocial behaviour, report finds

Despite an estimated 8.2 million anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents taking place each year, less than a quarter (23%) of victims of antisocial behaviour in England, and only 38% of victims in Wales have access to the support services they need, a report by the charity ASB Help reveals.

The ground-breaking research provides the first comprehensive map of the independent anti-social behaviour support available to victims across England and Wales. The report highlights the value of the practical help and emotional support that is being provided through locally-commissioned Victim Support projects in some areas.

In Newcastle, Leeds, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Tower Hamlets dedicated anti-social behaviour teams are working with victims while in 25 other areas Victim Support is providing ‘Victims Champions’ to help people cope with their experiences. However, the patchy provision and funding across the country means that a staggering 43 million people do not have access to such specialist independent antisocial behaviour services.

The report by ASB Help calls for a national minimum standard of support for antisocial behaviour victims, for local authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners to fund more local projects, and greater support for victims who are seeking redress through the civil courts. It also suggests that new government anti-social behaviour legislation would be improved if victims were given a clearer route to getting help.

Jennifer Herrera, Chief Executive Officer of ASB Help said: “Resolving anti-social behaviour often requires a multi-agency response and lines can be blurred as to who has responsibility for acting. Sometimes no one acts and the victim continues to suffer in silence. We believe an independent victim-focused point of contact like Victim Support ASB Champions is crucial for a victim-centred approach to tackling anti-social behaviour. We have confidence in signposting victims to such a service but this report shows that in many areas we do not have that option. We believe this urgently needs to change.”

Adam Pemberton, Assistant Chief Executive of the charity Victim Support said: “Antisocial behaviour can take on many forms, from littering and drunkenness to verbal abuse and threatening behaviour. It is often persistent and can shatter people’s lives and have a negative impact on the communities in which they live. “It’s clear from the findings of this report that there are massive gaps in support for people who are affected by antisocial behaviour, which must be addressed. A consistent approach to tackling this is needed. Agencies need to work together and learn from each other to ensure victims no longer fall through the gaps and have to cope with the torment of antisocial behaviour alone.”

Ends

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. Some areas of the UK have excellent resources to help victims of anti-social behaviour, including dedicated helplines. To find out more about ASB help visit: http://asbhelp.co.uk/

About Victim Support

Victim Support is the independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime in England and Wales. Last year we offered support to more than 1 million victims of crime and helped more than 198,000 people as they gave evidence at criminal trials through our Witness Service. Victim Support also provides the Homicide Service supporting people bereaved through murder and manslaughter and runs more than 100 local projects which tackle domestic violence, antisocial behaviour and hate crime, help children and young people and deliver restorative justice. The charity has 1,400 staff and 4,300 volunteers and is celebrating its 40th anniversary during 2014. To find out more about Victim Support visit: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/

ASB Help Report Effective Support November 2014

Trigger Happy

We welcome the introduction today of legislation designed to put victims of anti-social behaviour first. We sincerely hope that victims will indeed feel like they are being put first as agencies implement the new tools. We are very interested to hear from victims about their experiences.

We are particularly optimistic about the Community Trigger – a tool that will enable victims to require a case review by a multi-agency group including the Police and Council if they have reported incidents of anti-social behaviour 3 times or more in the past 6 months without an adequate response (note: the exact threshold will differ from one local authority area to another).

These agencies will be required by law to report to victims on what is being done and any recommendations they have for the agency leading on the case. This tool has been designed because the government believes there are a number of victims experiencing these problems. We believe that is the case too. So will we become trigger happy, activating them and getting those results we have a right to expect?

There is certainly a need for it. 79% of respondents of our online survey report that they are still waiting for a resolution to the anti-social behaviour they are suffering; 72% of people accessing our Act Now! guide have reported the ASB 3 times or more. However, it would seem unlikely that we will become trigger happy as the report from Trigger Pilots in specific areas of the country indicated: very little take-up though positive responses from victims who did activate it.

We believe there are 3 main reasons we can’t expect a flurry of triggers to be activated:

1.Complexity of it – each local area has a different threshold and as soon as you get into the explanation of how and when you cross this threshold, you may have lost some victims. That key message needs to get across first and foremost – if you are reporting anti-social behaviour but not being helped, or just being passed from one agency to another, the Trigger exists for you.

2. No funds for promoting it – Councils may often be the main point of contact but they do not have a budget to heavily promote it to the public in their local area. Funding cuts means local authority bulletins going out to every household are a thing of the past in many areas. Just sticking the Trigger somewhere on their website is not going to help many victims – those who do not have Internet access and those not keen on navigating their way through pages of text on Council websites!

3. No independent voice – we are optimistic that the Community Trigger can identify areas of bad practice amongst agencies – but if these same agencies are the points of contact this is going to be a real challenge. If a victim is struggling to get anywhere with their local authority because the local authority is unresponsive, it is unlikely that this same local authority is going to point the victim towards the Trigger.

We hope the Home Office will take a strong lead in getting the word out about the Community Trigger. We hope too that the media will give it some exposure – so far it has not been highlighted as other tools such as the Community Remedy have taken prominence.

We are compiling a Community Trigger Directory here and hope to raise awareness for victims. We are delighted to have this tool as victims contact us after years of suffering anti-social behaviour who seem to have reported it in vain. We are heartily recommending the Community Trigger and hope to get that all-important contact page for each area so that victims are equipped with all the necessary information to activate the Trigger.

Please email admin@asbhelp.co.uk with your local Community Trigger webpage if we don’t yet have it included in our Directory.