Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire's Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, wants local authorities and Bedfordshire Police to do more to tackle anti-social behaviour in the county. It follows a new Home Office report which gives victims the right to demand a review of their cases through a Community Trigger.
"These new guidelines give clarity on the need to put victims at the heart of efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour here in Bedfordshire. We also need greater transparency of how this serious issue is being handled by our police force and local authorities. A lot more needs to be done to make residents and businesses more aware of their right to have a case review or Community Trigger,” Festus said.
"Anti-social behaviour offences made up almost a quarter of all crimes reported in Bedfordshire in the 12 months to December 2020. While overall crime fell, we now know that ASB increased by nearly 20 percent on the previous year, despite Covid lockdown. The impact on residents’ lives and neighbourhoods can be devastating. No-one should live in fear of intimidation or harassment in their home or street,” he added. “I wholeheartedly welcome this new, stronger Home Office initiative.”
Festus furthermore pledged: “If elected as PCC for Bedfordshire this will be at the forefront of my work with all of our local authorities and partner agencies.”
Anti-social behaviour is described as persistent and unacceptable conduct that causes harassment, alarm or distress to an individual or community.
It can often be symptomatic of more serious behaviour involving crime. For example, gangs using a property to buy and sell drugs causes problems for the entire area.
The new Home Office directive will allow victims of persistent anti-social behaviour to demand a formal case review, also known as a Community Trigger.
This directive builds on previous updates to ensure local authorities give greater focus to the impact on victims. It will also provide clarity on the process of the ASB case review, allowing victims to be part of the evaluation process.
Local Authorities will be expected to publish annual Community Trigger reports to include the number of reviews they’ve carried out.
The government announcement follows research into the overall impact on communities of anti-social behaviour. Baroness Newlove, the Victims’ Commissioner for England & Wales, found examples of police and council staff failing to appreciate the cumulative impact of persistent anti-social behaviour on victims. She found examples of incidents being treated in isolation, meaning the underlying causes were ignored.
Baroness Newlove also discovered a culture of playing down anti-social behaviour, often hearing it described as a ‘low-level’ problem.
This meant that it ignored mental health issues, the ability to hold down employment or the strain on family relationships caused by being exposed to the problem.
Some victims said they found police and council staff who had never heard of a Community Trigger, and that the level of public awareness was also very low as a result. This led to victims feeling helpless and with nowhere to turn.
According to the Safeguarding Minister, Victoria Atkins:
"Victims must be front and centre of the approach police and local agencies take when tackling anti-social behaviour. We know that powers are already being used to good effect and this guidance provides even greater clarity for local agencies."
"We are determined to create safe and peaceful communities where people can thrive and perpetrators of anti-social behaviour are robustly dealt with."
Further details about Community Trigger can be found on the Bedfordshire Police website