Earlier this year I visited Middlesbrough and gave a training on the Community Trigger to a few agencies through a Resolve ASB regional meeting. There I learned something rather interesting … and also extremely concerning.
One of the delegates told me that in their local area when a Community Trigger is raised, and it relates to one of their tenants, the police (lead agency) contact them to find out what log of the incidents they have. They send through a record of the reports of ASB and their responses. If the lead agency is satisfied with this log, and can see action was taken (on paper), they tell the victim the threshold has not been met.
No, no, no, no, NO!
Such a log should confirm that if there were 3 or more reports of ASB in the past six months, then yes, indeed the threshold has been met. The case review meeting should then be held to determine whether the right action has been taken and what more can be done.
It is hard enough to activate a Community Trigger in most parts of the country. Victims of anti-social behaviour in the North-East have an added layer – agency confusion over the threshold.
Now it starts to make sense that in our first report Northumberland reported 39 Triggers but that all 39 Triggers had not reached the threshold. Likewise County Durham had 5 and Darlington 4, South Tyneside 3, and Gatehead 2, all of which didn’t meet the threshold. Hmm – suspicion rises. Not met the threshold, or on paper it looks like action was taken, so the lead agency has decided that equates to not meeting the threshold.
It makes me want to tear my hair out in frustration. Re-read the legislation please.
Sunderland Trigger versus the Legislation
The plot thickens when I look at Sunderland Council’s website and the way they explain the Community Trigger:
Criteria for activating the Community Trigger:
- Three or more complaints from an individual about the same problem, over a six month period, where no action has been taken by relevant agencies
- Five individuals complaining about the same problem where no action has been taken by relevant agencies
Sunderland has defined ‘no action’ as:
Victim did not receive an initial acknowledgement;
No subsequent contact has been made with victim following initial complaint;
Issues identified were not followed up or no action occurred;
Outcomes and/or case closure not reported to victim.
The dreaded two-tier threshold AND the addition of ‘no action taken’ – not even ‘unsatisfactory action’ as was discussed during the pilots, but ‘no action’ and then a helpful summary of what that means. This does NOT empower victims at all – this basically says if victims receive an acknowledgement and told what is happening (or not going to happen) and perhaps even that the case has been closed, they cannot activate the Community Trigger. There is no opportunity for victims to question what has been done, nor for agencies to come together to problem solve the situation.
Let’s see what the legislation says about the threshold:
(4)In a situation where—
(a)an application for an ASB case review is made, and
(b)at least three (or, if a different number is specified in the review procedures, at least that number of) qualifying complaints have been made about the anti-social behaviour to which the application relates,
the relevant bodies must decide that the threshold for a review is met.
See our latest report, pages 20-21, for our comments on the confusion surrounding the threshold which we believe should be standardised and certainly legal!
Practitioners: here is our guide to correctly publicising your Community Trigger: https://asbhelp.co.uk/clap-and-get-your-community-trigger-right/
If you are a victim of anti-social behaviour in the North-East that has been unable to activate the Community Trigger, do get in touch with us and let us know what happened.