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