As a small charity we are not able to assist individual victims as a rule. We have, however, invited feedback about the Community Trigger to help us understand victims’ experiences of this new power. Interestingly, two victims both in West Midlands have both expressed frustration over the lack of assistance they have received from their local Police and local Council/Housing Association.
Both activated the Community Trigger, both were simply told ‘all procedures had been followed’. Neither was invited to share their side of the story to the multi-agency group – the whole process seemed to simply delay things and create more paperwork. Many agencies may feel the same way about the Community Trigger – how infuriating because when done correctly, it has huge potential to make a difference for victims of ASB.
Having advised these two victims of how they might go about appealing the Trigger or even looking at ways local media might get involved, I turned to the West Midlands PCC office. I recommended both victims contact the PCC but then did so myself as well, particular after reading this interesting report: http://www.westmidlands-pcc.gov.uk/media/378785/spcb-3-nov-15-community-remedy-community-trigger-and-out-of-court-disposals.pdf
This report indicates a Community Trigger process that is effective and working. It speaks of one area – Sandwell – and how the three unsuccessful applications (out of 4 made) had an outcome that agencies were satisfied they were doing all they could. Crucially, they felt there was an opportunity to manage expectations earlier in the problem-solving process; and to speed up inter-agency communication; and information sharing. I wonder if this was actually shared with the victims?
The report states that the final example from Sandwell was just what the trigger was intended for – a registered social landlord had not acted over a period of two years to complaints from a vulnerable individual. The trigger panel made requirements of the Registered Social Landlord (RSL) to arrange remedial activity. One of the victims who has contacted us also speaks of a Housing Association that is unresponsive and giving inaccurate information.
The other speaks of years of stalking with a Council and Police force now unwilling to do anything further. We contacted the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner on 1st December about these two cases. We were assured that they would come back to us following a meeting on 4th December when they would have the necessary background information. On the 15th December we finally contacted them again to hear more – so far no information is forthcoming. We want to give victims a louder voice. The apathy about the distress and frustration of these two victims (not even a note of concern for them in our correspondence) is deeply concerning and just goes to reinforce the sense that they are being failed by West Midlands agencies. I wonder how many others there are …
ASB Help wants to work with agencies but is an independent charity and has given the West Midlands team opportunity to respond to these concerns before making them public.