Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is something that can affect a whole community - it should therefore involve community effort. The act introduces a shared responsibility for dealing with ASB, a statutory duty known as the 'Community Trigger'.
Reference to the community trigger can be found at sections 104 & 105 of the act, which came into force in May 2014. It has been piloted in Manchester, Brighton and Hove, West Lindsey, Boston, and Richmond Upon Thames. The Home Office report 'Empowering Communities, Protecting Victims: summary report on community trigger trials', published May 2013 highlights the lessons identified by the pilot areas and will help assist other relevant bodies which are setting up their community trigger procedures. For the purpose of the community trigger, ASB is defined as behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress to a member, or members of the public.
Point of contact - relevant bodies must publish a point of contact for victims or anyone acting on their behalf. This may include a phone number, email address, postal address, and a form which can be completed on line.
The review - the community trigger gives victims the ability to demand action, starting with a review of their case. The review encourages a problem solving approach aimed at dealing with some of the persistent complex cases of ASB. Victims can include individuals and well as businesses or community groups.
The locally defined threshold - the nature of the ASB experienced by victims in the area and the working practices of the agencies involved will determine the threshold. The act outlines a maximum threshold of three complaints of ASB within a 6 month period. All relevant bodies such as the police, councils and social housing providers should work together to agree an appropriate community trigger threshold based on factors such as:
- the persistence of the ASB
- the harm or potential harm caused by the ASB
- the adequacy of response to the ASB
In practice when a request to use the community trigger is received, the agencies in that area must decide whether the complaint meets the threshold requirements and communicate this to the victim. If the threshold is met a case review will be undertaken by the agencies involved. The agencies should share the information and review what, if any, action had been taken previously to decide whether additional action is required.
One of the aims of the community trigger is to encourage those who are vulnerable, or may not otherwise engage with agencies, to report incidents of ASB. Although some reported behaviour may fall below the level of harassment, alarm or distress or may not meet the threshold - when assessed on potential harm to the victim, the impact of the behaviour may be such that the threshold will be met.
If the victim is considered vulnerable, the relevant bodies should consider what additional practical and emotional support can be offered.
Qualifying complaint - the act sets out what will be considered as a qualifying complaint for using the community trigger. Although the act prescribes the standard, agencies are free to set different standards so long as it does not lower the standard as set out in the act:
- the ASB was reported within one month of the alleged behaviour taking place, and
- the application to use the community trigger is made within six months of the report of anti - social behaviour
Recommendations - the agencies that undertake the review may make recommendations to other agencies that are then under a statutory duty to acknowledge the recommendations. They need not carry out the recommendations but must give good reason why they have chosen not to in order to avoid challenge. The recommendation plan should involve the victim to ensure that it meets specific needs.
Duty to the victim - the act places a duty on relevant bodies to respond to the victim at particular points in the process. It should be agreed between the agencies who will communicate with the victim. The stages for response include:
- the decision as to whether or not the threshold is met
- the outcome of the review
- any recommendations made as to the outcome of the review
Publishing data - the act requires relevant bodies to publish information covering:
- the number of applications for community trigger received
- the number of times the threshold for review was met
- the number of ASB case reviews carried out
- the number of ASB case reviews that resulted in recommendations being made
Where there are a number of housing providers in an area, they could be represented by one housing provider on behalf of the sector - a Co-opt. If the Co-opt option is chosen, the data obtained can represent the whole area. It does not need to be broken down by relevant body. Published information must not include details which could identify the victim.
For a more comprehensive guide to the information set out above visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/332839/StatutoryGuidanceFrontline.pdf