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: https://asbhelp.co.uk.gridhosted.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/The-Community-Trigger-Empowerment-or-Bureaucratic-Exercise-Sept16.pdf
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.
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:
- there is great confusion over how to use the Community Trigger;
- 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;
- statutory guidance to make the Community Trigger accessible to all victims has been frequently ignored; and
- 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.
 Home Office. Putting Victims First. More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour. May 2012, page 3