The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to gain a greater understanding of the approach adopted in Middlesbrough to develop a local Community Trigger and the Community Remedy document.
The Council's Community Safety Manager and a representative from the Police and Crime Commissioners office were in attendance at the meeting to give presentations on the Community Trigger and the Community Remedy document.
A copy of the Home Offices summary report on the Community Trigger trials entitled "Empowering Communities, Protecting Victims" and a copy of the Councils Community Trigger Procedure and flowchart had been circulated with the submitted report.
The purpose of the Community Trigger was to give victims and communities the right to request a review of their case and bring agencies together to take a joined up, problem solving approach to find a solution. The Government had introduced this new tool as part of the amendments to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to specifically target repeat and vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour and ensure that agencies worked together to support them.
In Middlesbrough, the Council, Cleveland Police, South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Co-opted Housing Associations were part of the Community Trigger. Since Thirteen was the biggest housing provider, they would be the lead contact on behalf of the other registered social landlords in the town.
A request for the Community Trigger to be activated could be made when an individual, business or community group had made three or more reports regarding the same problem in the past six months to Middlesbrough Council, Cleveland Police or their Housing Association, or; more than one individual, business or community group had made five or more reports about the same problem in the past six months to Middlesbrough Council, Cleveland Police or their Housing Association landlord.
Requests could not be made more than six months after the problems to review had occurred or where they were not reported to official agencies within one month of their occurrence. Generally, requests could not be made about problems that occurred outside of Middlesbrough. It was emphasised that the Community Trigger process was a request for a review and not a complaint process.
In some of the trial areas people had tried to use the Trigger as a normal anti-social behaviour complaint. The Trigger was specifically for use where people had reported issues and felt there had not been a resolution to the problem.
In line with the new legislation, there was a single point of contact for activating the Community Trigger which was the Councils Neighbourhood Safety Team. All requests had to be made by telephone, email or letter and an acknowledgement letter would be sent. All the responsible agencies would be contacted to assess what action, if any, had been taken previously. Middlesbroughs Legal Services would decide whether the threshold had been met and, if so, a Case Review Panel meeting would be convened. The Panel would look at the history of the case and determine whether more should have been done.
The Case Review Panel would consider several issues including; whether the victims vulnerability been assessed and reduced to a satisfactory level; whether the correct procedures had been followed; and whether appropriate joint working had reduced the problem so that it was no longer a cause for concern. An Action Plan might be developed to look at how to take the case forward and the applicant would be informed of the outcome of the Case Review Panel.
There were two grounds of appeal which were: the Case Review Panels refusal to review a case or the outcome of the Panels review. There had to be a reason for the appeal, other than the applicant disagreed with the decision. All requests for an appeal had to be made in writing to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) by the application within ten working days of the Case Review Panels meeting outcome. The PCCs office would inform the application of the appeal decision within five working days of the appeal meeting.
In conjunction with the Home Office, Middlesbrough Council had developed a Risk Assessment Matrix for use with all victims of anti-social behaviour. There was also a team of liaison officers available to support victims of anti-social behaviour.
In trials for the Community Trigger in Leeds, there had initially been approximately forty applications, however only two of them had met the threshold. It was anticipated that similarly Middlesbrough might initially have an influx of applications. It was confirmed that no additional funding was available to implement the new Procedure.
However, Middlesbrough already had the Risk Assessment Matrix in place and ensured that victims were of the utmost priority. In addition, a lot of joint working was in place with Housing Associations and Cleveland Police. A quarterly meeting would take place with the PCCs office to discuss any Triggers that had been activated. The four local authority areas across Cleveland had developed similar procedures with regard to the Community Trigger which would simplify the process for the PCCs office.
The importance of providing feedback was emphasised, regardless of the outcome of court cases. Quite often the victims of anti-social behaviour had other problems, for example, mental health issues, and they could be sign-posted to other agencies for additional support.
The new Act would come into force on 20 October 2014. However, the Civil Injunction element had been delayed until January 2015.
A copy of Middlesbrough Councils Community Trigger Procedure would be available on the Councils website and a dedicated phone line had been set up. Panel Members suggested that some publicity should be arranged for the launch of the new Procedure and Community Councils in particular needed to be informed.
The Community Remedy was essentially an extension of restorative justice for some offenders rather than criminalising them. The Remedy would apply to first time offenders for low level offences such as anti-social behaviour. Restorative justice had been in place since April 2013 for under eighteen year olds and would now be extended to adults. This sanction was only available to the Police and had to be with the agreement of the victim.
The PCC had consulted with the general public, housing providers, Middlesbrough Council, the Youth Offending Service and other agencies to agree a list of possible sanctions.
The Police Officer involved in the case would liaise with the victim who could choose from a list of sanctions that the perpetrator would be asked to comply with. For example, if property was damaged, the perpetrator could be asked to undertake repair work. This work would not necessarily be to repair the actual damage the perpetrator had caused but might be at another location. Letters or apology or face-to-face apologies might be other options. Consideration might also be given to referring perpetrators to alcohol and anger management courses.
1. The information provided was received and noted.
2. An update on the Community Trigger and Community Remedy would be provided at a future meeting of the Panel.