Derbyshire’s county, city, borough and district councils have agreed on newly revised Community Trigger guidance which is consistent but flexible to the needs of each area. This county-wide guidance reflects best practice and ensures victims are at the heart of the trigger process.
The local context
Derbyshire County Council works on ASB with the eight district and borough councils, Derby City Council, Derbyshire Constabulary and other partners across the county. The senior community safety officer with responsibility for ASB acts as a central point for policy and process, pulling together information on behalf of all the community safety partnerships and producing guidance that ensures some degree of county-wide consistency.
Tracy Coates, Derbyshire’s Senior Community Safety Officer, said the aim is to create policy and procedures that are flexible enough to be adapted to local areas with different demographics, political leadership and ASB challenges. “My role is to translate the national statutory guidance into usable local guidance. I try to provide a minimum set of standards to enable individual councils to fit them in with their local partnership structures.”
The county-wide Safer Communities Board has various sub-groups including the Derbyshire ASB Sub-Group, chaired by the police ASB lead. New policy and procedures are developed through the use of multi-agency task and finish groups.
New Community Trigger guidance
2019 saw the publication of the national charity ASB Help’s independent report into the use of the Community Trigger (CT), along with the Victims’ Commissioner report ‘Anti-Social Behaviour: Living a Nightmare’. Both contained a number of recommendations, and in response Derbyshire decided to review its county-wide guidance on CT policy and procedure, which had been in place since the legislation was introduced in 2014.
A list of recommendations was taken to the ASB Sub-Group, which developed them into a set of sound and consistent advice that all the partners were happy with. Although some issues around data protection delayed the process, the new guidance was eventually approved by the Safer Communities Board.
The key changes made to Derbyshire’s original policy included:
- removing the ‘five households’ threshold (as recommended by ASB Help)
- including a requirement to invite victims to the review
- clarifying information-sharing and consent arrangements (addressing issues around the GDPR)
- adding templates to support local working
- including advice for the partner agencies to be able to activate the CT (managers at Inspector level or above)
- clarification of the role of the independent chair.
Agreement was also reached on how information should be provided for residents and how data will be published. In accordance with the legislation, annual data had always been published by each council, but Derbyshire County Council will now also collate data on the number of CTs/appeals from all the councils and publish it centrally. Lessons from CT applications are already shared across the county and that will continue. Another idea being considered is an annual report to the local criminal justice board.
Impact and outcomes
This was very recent work at the time of writing, and the decision was made to have a ‘soft launch’ period while ASB officers across Derbyshire were briefed on the new procedures and made preparations to implement them. Some of the districts and boroughs have significant resourcing challenges in terms of ASB officer time, so it took time to get things in place. Each council’s website was updated from April 2021 and a communications campaign was prepared.
Derbyshire’s ASB work has had a strong focus on victims since before the 2014 legislation, and the partners work closely with local support services for victims. The county’s long-standing ‘ASB Victims First’ project provides help to particularly vulnerable victims through sharing of information with partners such as housing, environmental health and adult care. As a natural progression to that work, Derbyshire has now signed up to the ASB Help PLEDGE Standard.
The purpose of the Community Trigger is to find a resolution to an ongoing situation, and by signing up to the PLEDGE Standard areas such as Derbyshire can demonstrate their commitment to victims. Rebecca Brown, Chief Executive Officer of ASB Help, said:
We are more than employees – we are champions of our communities and we embrace inclusivity so that everything we do is impactful. This is the best practice we ask stakeholders to embrace in their management of anti-social behaviour.
“At the heart of protecting victims is the fundamental requirement to give them a voice and be willing to listen to what they have to say. If we do not listen to our victims, we cannot comprehend the harm they are suffering and what a resolution to their case should look like. And this is the beauty of the Community Trigger: it gives practitioners the blueprint to assimilate the victim’s voice into a case resolution. So councils can promote it to their residents and stakeholders by making it accessible. By doing so, they are protecting their victims from suffering in silence any longer.
- Engagement and consultation with all partners in a two-tier area may not be the quickest option, but it is the most effective way to ensure that everyone is on board and to achieve a consistent approach for residents.
- Engaging health and mental health services in the ASB agenda has been a particular challenge.
- Strong relationships between all the partners mean that CTs can often be avoided by working together to deal with a problem before there is a need to activate the trigger.