Monday, 30 January 2012

May pledges further action on ASB

Home Secretary Theresa May, speaking today at a police reform event, revealed that the government is working with a number of local authorities to trial the so-called 'community trigger' to force police and local authorities to deal with anti-social behaviour (ASB). She explained that the pilots would begin in the summer.

The community trigger will be activated if five separate households in the same neighbourhood complain about a problem neighbour - though claims deemed malicious can be rejected by local Community Safety Partnerships, and there must be at least three instances of ASB for the 'trigger' to be activated.

The Home Office first announced community triggers in 2011 - one of several tools to replace 18 pre-existing powers.

May said in her speech today:
"It's too easy to overlook the harm that persistent anti-social behaviour causes."

"The trigger will give victims and communities the right to demand that agencies who had ignored a problem must take action."
According to the BBC, Shadow Home Office minister Gloria DePiero criticised the speech as a "belated and weak announcement". She continued:
"After two years of doing nothing to tackle anti-social behaviour, the home secretary has to do better than a few pilots that won't start until the summer, and which seem to suggest that anti-social behaviour should not be taken seriously if only two or three people complain."
May also referred in her speech to trials carried out in eight police force of a new approach for handling ASB complaints. The pilots have achieved encouraging initial results, and have been able to identify high-risk individuals who might otherwise have slipped through the net. The Home Office will now work with police forces nationwide to share the lessons of the trials.

National review of crime statistics

Hailed as 'the first review of its kind' a recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) reviewed police crime and incident reports in England and Wales, looking at:
  • incidents reported by the public converted into crimes
  • use of the 'no crime' category by the police.
HMIC reported that:
"Two aspects of ASB management were found to be widely variable: the recording of crimes from ASB incidents, and attempts to identify repeat and vulnerable victims at the point of first contact."
The report also found that "ASB incidents that should have been 'crimed' appear low overall, especially in some forces," strongly suggesting that in some cases incidents are dismissed as 'nuisance' behaviour, rather than as harassment or public order offences.

However, the sample size used for the report was small, so HMIC plans to do further research and publish new findings later this year.

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