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The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird QC, has said housing providers need to do more on Anti-Social Behaviour.
Speaking at the start of HQN’s ASB Week, Dame Vera said rising levels of anti-social behaviour during Covid-19 has shown that the current approaches do not work.
“ASB is very serious and can cost lives,” she said. “ASB makes victims feel undermined and vulnerable. Although considered a sub crime in some definitions, it is very important for it to be dealt with.”
The former Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner urged the sector to do more: “Housing providers need to treat ASB as an urgent priority. Housing providers need to promote the Community Trigger, upfront on websites, in literature.”
She added that there was a lack of knowledge among housing professionals, police officers and those in local authority about the benefits of using Community Trigger.
Community Trigger is a tool that allows victims of ASB to escalate long-term issues and when the behaviour is not dealt with. This allows better chances of success, Dame Vera said.
The Victims’ Commissioner conceded that although the Trigger is not a “silver bullet”, it needs to be given a chance to see what it can do.
She added: “Community triggers should be promoted so the people that need it can use it. If the ASB passes the threshold and hasn't stopped, there can be a ASB case review.”
But her recommendations for the future weren’t just for housing.
Dame Vera said government should “offer resources and a standardised way of working for the future” as well as putting resource “directly into local government” to tackle ASB.
In terms of policing, she was very much of the opinion that the definition and criminality of ASB needed to change, stating that currently “police regard ASB as sub criminal so they don't completely want to get involved but they recognise they sometimes have to do something.”
In her role as Victims’ Commissioner, she has asked for victims of ASB to be made victims of crime, so they get better representation and support.
Currently, ASB victims “tend to be pushed from pillar to post by agencies”, she said, adding that “many cases of ASB show there are more severe crimes going on, e.g. cuckooing.”
The former barrister was also keen to tackle myths around anti-social behaviour, saying that most often that not it is not “kids” being the perpetrators.
She also made it clear that mental health support should be more involved in the whole process, saying many of the issues with ASB stem from this.
HQN's ASB week has just started! There are plenty more sessions for you to book onto and tuck into! For a full list of the sessions, and how to book on, please visit the event page.