Trials of a new approach for handling complaints of antisocial behaviour (ASB) were unveiled today by crime prevention minister James Brokenshire.
Eight police force areas will change the way they respond to calls, including a new system of logging complaints and improving the use of IT to share information, that will help to quickly identify and protect vulnerable victims.
Differing approaches to recording complaints of ASB and identifying repeat victims has seen too many people slip through the cracks, their plight overlooked by the authorities.
James Brokenshire said: ‘Antisocial behaviour ruins lives, damages our communities and, at its worst, can have tragic consequences. It is essential those who raise the alarm and ask for help are listened to and their complaints acted upon promptly.
‘It is not acceptable that those most in need either slip through the net or are plain ignored. The technology exists to allow agencies to introduce a smart way of handling such complaints and a simple way of sharing information – they need to use it.’
The volunteer areas will trial a new approach based on five key principles, which will be tailored to each area:
creating an effective call handling system where each individual has a log of complaints created from the very first call
introducing risk assessment tools to quickly identify the most vulnerable victims
installing off-the-shelf IT systems to share information on cases between agencies, removing the need for meetings
agreeing a protocol across all local agencies setting out how they will manage cases
engaging with the community to clearly set out the issues which are causing the most harm to individuals and neighbourhoods, and setting out how the police, other local agencies and the public can work together to address them
Baroness Newlove, champion for active safer communities, said: ‘Protecting those who are most vulnerable in our neighbourhoods is essential – after all, we all know who the troublemakers are who live down our street.
‘The frustration has been that in some cases it has appeared that nobody has been able to stop them, with tragic results.
‘These changes to the way police handle such complaints will help make our communities safer and more confident places where decent law abiding people feel they are being listened to and supported. This is the new way forward, action not words.’
The government’s new approach to tackling ASB is seeing responsibility and control move from Whitehall to local agencies and neighbourhoods.
Building on that principle, the trials are bottom-up, with each volunteer area deciding how to implement the five principles.
At the end of the trial the Home Office will assess each area’s approach and publish details about what worked best across the eight forces and what other areas should be looking to copy.
Association of Chief Police Officers lead on antisocial behaviour, assistant chief constable Simon Edens, said: ‘The police service recognises that all individuals and communities have a right to live their lives free from intimidation, harassment and any other disorder that may damage their quality of life.
‘One of the core purposes of policing is to keep people safe and this includes dealing effectively with antisocial behaviour.
‘The pilot in eight force areas will focus on improving handling and logging of complaints as well as looking at improvements to IT systems to ensure information from partners is shared more easily. The results of the pilot will help us shape a more consistent approach to dealing with the policing response to local concerns as well as developing our links with partners.’
The trials, in Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, South Wales, Sussex and West Mercia will run from January to July 2011.
In the New Year the Government will be announcing the results of its review of the existing tools and powers, such as ASBOs, and launching a consultation setting out a new way forward in how ASB is both viewed and tackled.