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ASB Week: The Community Trigger – empowering communities

An image of 5 different hands holding on to the wrist of the hand to the side of them, forming a star.

To tackle what is described as a ‘worrying’ lack of awareness, the second UK-wide ASB Awareness Week is running from 18-24 July 2022, calling on public bodies to use the opportunity to raise public knowledge of the Community Trigger.

Recent YouGov research commissioned by the community safety organisation Resolve found that despite more than half of people (56%*) believing ‘more needs to be done’ to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their community, just one-in-fifty (2%) fully understand their rights to challenge the problem,

The Community Trigger (also known as the ASB case review) is one of the government’s flagship ASB policies. It gives people the right to request a multi-agency review of their case if they feel their complaints about anti-social behaviour have not been dealt with.

However, 94% of people said they had never heard of the Community Trigger, with just 2% saying they ‘fully understand’ their rights. The power was introduced in 2014 as part of a shake-up, which also saw Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) replaced with civil injunctions and the Criminal Behaviour Order.

It empowers a victim to bring agencies together to commit to purposeful action to bring an end to repeat ASB. It can represent the best hope for victims to escape their nightmare. But it remains poorly promoted and underutilized.

To tackle this, I’m joining Resolve and other stakeholders to call on councils, police forces, housing providers, the government, and other bodies to use the opportunity to raise public knowledge of these powers.

My principal work on ASB as Victims’ Commissioner has rightly focused on the Community Trigger. I have advocated the Trigger at numerous conferences and lobbied ministers better to promote its availability and use.

The Community Trigger can be activated through notice to a local authority, a Police and Crime Commissioner, or to the police when a victim or victims have reported ASB incidents three or more times within a six-month period, and no effective action has been taken. A councillor or member of Parliament may also activate the Trigger for their constituent. It is intended to be an opportunity for citizen empowerment, an important part of our democracy. When the victim or victims have activated the Trigger, all agencies, such as the police, the local authority and housing associations, must come together to address the situation and ultimately fix the problem. No longer should a victim be passed from authority to authority.

However, despite the intention that the Trigger should be a solution to a complex problem, it has not delivered the results I would hope to see. My predecessor’s report, ‘Living a Nightmare’, outlined the challenges associated with the Trigger and recommended solutions to them. Awareness of the Trigger remains low among the public and even some of the relevant agencies, and it is underused. Where it is used, victims have found they aren’t given the opportunity to attend the joint meeting the authorities should organise to tell their story and voice their concerns.

In recent YouGov polling, Just 5% of people said they had received or noticed communications about their ASB rights in the last three years. 88% of people said they were unaware of any communications during this period, while 8% said ‘don’t know’.

This is why I was pleased to help launch the ASB Pledge with the organisation ASB Help. The Pledge includes a commitment to promote the Trigger and to use it strongly to ensure that victims are put first and perpetrators are dealt with firmly. The Community Trigger is a powerful tool, and I am pleased to say that the Pledge seems to have increased its use. However, it must be fully embraced by agencies and victims must be invited to present their experiences for it to be effective.

While ASB is a challenging and complex issue, I have worked with many committed stakeholders working to improve the lives of victims. These organisations are bringing improvements that can be built on in the future.
But it is also time to push the issue up the agenda and make it a top priority for government. With the new Victims’ Law, the government must ensure that victims of persistent ASB, whose suffering has made them entitled to activate the Community Trrigger, must be recognised as victims of crime in their own right, with all the support that entails. Accordingly, the Community Trigger must be actively promoted, with agencies required to meaningfully engage with it and Victims’ Code rights delivered to those victims.

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*All survey figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc and provided by Resolve ASB. Total sample size was 2006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st – 4th April 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).