Community triggers were introduced to the UK as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. Also known as Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) case reviews, a Community Trigger is a national process that notifies Agencies to work together within 6 months of reported ASB incidents. ASB Help share actions that can be made across the public sector to improve the outcomes of community triggers. This post continues the series of written content ASB Help have provided for GE Insights, other pieces include:

The Community Trigger: Obstacles to Effective Access and Implementation
Criminal Behaviour Orders: Insights from ASB Help

ASB Help

ASB Help champion the Community Trigger and continue to advise individuals to consider making an application.  It is after all the victims’ statutory right, “designed to give victims and communities a say in the way that complaints of anti-social behaviour are dealt with, and to help ensure that victims’ voices are heard.”  The trigger gives the victim a voice to advise the authorities that they are still suffering and need them to review their case to establish a way to resolve the ongoing ASB.  It’s not about whether the relevant agencies have responded to the 3 incidents listed on their form, it is about actively listening to that victim (or victims) and their plea for assistance.  Looking at the matter in its entirety with all the information pertaining to the case from all the relevant agencies and putting steps in place to bring it to a resolution.

However, we still hear from victims on a weekly basis noting ‘the Community Trigger is useless’, ‘I wasn’t invited to speak’, ‘the action plan wasn’t implemented’ ‘I don’t want to put myself through the whole ordeal again, as I’m no further forward’. 

This prompts the question, what is going wrong?

Whilst ASB Help continues to highlight the issues with agencies placing additional caveats to the threshold making it somewhat of a postcode lottery, my focus here relates to the issues with the Community Trigger once the threshold has been met and the process has been activated.

Community Trigger should be Victim Focussed

Firstly, I think it important that authorities embrace the legislation in the spirit in which it was intended.  If organisations and their staff fear the Community Trigger, believing it to be nothing more than another complaints process or an accountability exercise then there is a danger of treating it as such when a trigger application is made and meets the threshold as they believe their decision-making process and actions will be brought under scrutiny.

The focus should not be on whether organisations have done everything correctly (albeit quite often there is some key learning to arise out of reviewing the case) it should be on the victim, who due to ongoing persistent ASB is/are suffering and crying out for help, reaching out to the professionals to reflect and see if anything more can be done. If this is not done, then the Community Trigger loses its whole sentiment. It no longer becomes the victims’ voice but a mere tick-box exercise for organisations.  

Involve all Partner Agencies

ASB Help has been involved in a number of Community Trigger reviews, some of which have been excellent with fantastic partnership attendance.  Others, however, involved just two organisations namely the Local Authority (with only one representative from the Community Safety/ASB Team) and the Police.  This is not to say there may be occasional times when these are the only organisations needing to be involved in a trigger process but the majority of ASB cases can be complex.  Contributions should be welcomed from a number of agencies, including:

  • Housing
  • ASB
  • Community Safety Teams
  • Environmental Health
  • Police
  • Fire and Rescue Service
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Victim Support
  • Adult/Children’s Services
  • Safeguarding lead from the ICB

This is not a completely exhaustive list though, and more agencies can sometimes be involved in the process. Whilst this may sound quite basic in terms of ASB case management, I have still come across cases which have reached the Community Trigger stage and upon reading the documentation I have raised the question “is this person known to mental health services, because I have some concerns?” those checks haven’t always been completed.  Furthermore, even when the answer is “no, they are not known” there is a need to follow this up with “well they may need to be!”. 


Start with the Goal of Finding a Resolution to the Anti-Social Behaviour

As noted above, the Community Trigger is about moving forward to resolve ASB so you should be inviting all those necessary in an attempt to secure a resolution.  For example, if there are underlying mental health issues and/or those involved in the anti-social behaviour are drug/alcohol dependent and possibly even treatment-resistant, the expertise of professionals working within this field is crucial when drafting an action plan and addressing the ASB in its entirety.  No single agency can tackle ASB alone. One thing is for sure though, if you approach the Community Trigger as a self-preservation exercise, then the goal of solving the problem becomes lost.

Consider the benefits

Upon mentioning the number of agencies that should be involved in a Community Trigger, some of you will automatically think that this is resource intensive and a costly exercise, especially if it is better publicised and more applications are received.    

There are a few points I want to reflect upon in relation to this…

Ultimately, raising the profile of the Community Trigger may mean an increase in applications. However, it must be remembered that not every single ASB victim who has reported 3 or more incidents in the previous 6 months will feel that they require a review of their case.  If that was the case, most people reporting ASB would submit an application as one diary sheet often containing more than 3 incidents!  There are many cases whereby victims are happy that their case is being managed appropriately, they are being listened to and the matter is in the process of being resolved.  

Also, if we were to put a cost on some cases, particularly those that are more complex and time-consuming, intensive ones which may have been open and closed repeatedly over not months but years, I imagine it would be pretty high.  In these scenarios, I believe the Community Trigger is invaluable.  Yes, it will all the organisations involved in terms of time and resources in the short term, but in the event that a matter is brought to head, it will not only benefit the victim but for us as practitioners, it’s worth its weight in gold. 

At the same time, it must be recognised that Community Trigger is not a magic wand.  Some matters will never be resolved due to the individuals involved, but least the Trigger will help organisations manage the situation and the expectations of all those involved: A sledgehammer won’t be used to crack a nut!

Create robust Community Trigger policies and procedures

Thirdly, and I do hear this a lot, as well as it being highlighted in the Living a Nightmare Report published in 2019; there is no legal recourse if the action plan is not followed up and therefore no accountability.  We have spoken with a few organisations now that have struggled with this as some of the partnering agencies have refused to action the tasks allocated to them.  Referring once more to the statutory guidance, it notes: –

The relevant bodies who undertake the review may give actions to other agencies. The legislation places a duty on a person who carries out public functions to have regard to those recommendations. This means that they are not obliged to carry out the actions, but that they should acknowledge them, and they should be challenged if they choose not to carry them out without good reason, particularly where vulnerabilities exist.”

In these circumstances, ASB Help would advise that a Community Trigger Policy and Procedures is robust and provides a detailed escalation process.  This should allow the matter to be clearly raised up through the various levels of management. 

Please get in touch to see if we can help:

If you want any further information and advice, then ASB Help would be more than happy to offer our assistance and review your Community Trigger policy and procedures free of charge as part of our PLEDGE.  This seeks to encourage all agencies involved in the Community Trigger process to embed best practice into their policy and procedures and help us in our mission to ensure that victims of persistent ASB are truly given a voice and that partners work together, and problem-solve to secure a satisfactory resolution.

I appreciate this blog does not even touch upon independent chairs, tackling vexatious complainants who try to use the community trigger process for their own agenda, or even the inconsistency across England and Wales in relation the Community Trigger appeals process.  However, each one of these topics is worthy of its own blog… So, watch this space!

Katy Anderson
Practitioner Support Manager
ASB Help

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Community triggers were introduced to the UK as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. ASB Help share improvements that can be made across the public sector to improve outcomes of Community Triggers.

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