Agenda item

ASB Help- support for victims

Harvinder Saimbhi, CEO of ASB Help and Katy Anderson, Practitioner Support Manager will be in attendance to provide the panel with information on what ASB help does and how it supports victims of anti-social behaviour.



The Chair welcomed Harvinda Saimbhi, CEO of ASB Help and Katy Anderson, Practitioner Support Manager to the meeting.


The Panel had covered all terms of reference set, however one aspect undiscovered was the perceptions and impact of anti-social behaviour. BBC Panorama documentary – Anti-social behaviour- afraid in my own home, had recently been televised and spoken to the Mayor and local residents/ ward councillors within the Hemlington Ward.


During the programme, the former CEO of ASB Help featured and therefore the panel were thrilled to have them present at the meeting.


The CEO firstly provided some background to ASB Help, advised the following:


·         ASB Help is a registered charity in England and Wales set up to provide advice and support to victims of anti-social behaviour in 2013.

·         The Charity has a website that is dedicated to the memory of Fiona Pilkington from Leicester who in 2007 killed herself and her 18 year old disabled daughter Francecca after Leicester police failed to investigate her 33 complaints to them about harassment.

·         Purpose and aim is to work with victims of anti-social behaviour (ASB). The founder of the Charity was adamant that what happened to Fiona should not happen again.

·         ASB Help aims to provide information and advice to interested parties and members of the public involved with and suffering from anti-social behaviour.

·          Following such high-profile cases of vulnerable victims who did not receive any help from the authorities, ASB help believe there is a clear need for coordinated information and advice that is readily accessible to those who need it.

·         ASB Help primarily offer support through their informative website particularly focusing on equipping victims of anti-social behaviour with the necessary tools to effectively report it.

·         They provide one to one support and advice to practitioners on a wide range of ASB areas, such as advice on cases, provide training, sit as independent chairs or panel members for community trigger meetings, lead on developing local ASB conferences or briefings to a range of audiences.

·         ASB Help was also in the in the process of developing a practitioner site which will contain useful information, templates and best practice examples. They believe this is important because ultimately victims of anti-social behaviour will receive a better response where ASB practitioners are well-informed through sharing best practice, updates in the sector and opportunities to be innovative to get results for victims.

·         ASB Help  also plan to build up a database of information from visitors to the website on how effective they have found their local authorities and police to be in responding to reports of ASB, populated by our online survey.

·         ASB Help have particular interest in the Community Trigger (also known as the ASB Case Review) introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to empower victims who feel they are being ignored by local agencies. They hope that they can assist victims in accessing their local Community Trigger and as we gain more knowledge and experience in this area, undertake political lobbying to ensure it is fit for purpose.

·         ASB Help also encourage authorities to sign up to the Community Trigger ASB Help PLEDGE

Katy Anderson, Practitioner Support Manager provided the panel with further information on the community trigger ASB Help pledge. The panel were advised that the ASB Help Pledge was introduced in 2019, to get national consistency with the community trigger. The manager outlined that the guidance around community triggers can appear vague, and that they are aware all local authorities are set up differently, and this allows you to fit the community trigger round the key existing frameworks. However due to the vague guidance, there were a lot of inconsistencies across local authorities and the aim is to place the victim at the heart of the process and ensuring the victims voice is heard. It is not a complaints or accountability process- it is a problem solving exercise to address ongoing asb.


ASB Help therefore actively encourage local authorities to sign up to the ASB Help Pledge, by ensuring that they:


1.     Promote awareness: Actively encourage the use of the community trigger to residents and partner agencies. One of the key things is that the community trigger is the voice of victim and where the agencies collectively agree an action plan.

2.     Legality: Confirm your organisation is legally compliant and embracing the spirit of the community trigger. For example, having an independent chair and therefore ASB Help encourage local authorities to work together so that the Chair is completely independent from the area.

3.     Ensure accessibility: Publicise the community trigger so the most vulnerable know what it is and how to invoke it.

4.     Develop your process: Embrace the full potential of the community trigger by continually reviewing and learning from best practice.

5.     Generate inclusivity: Use community trigger review meetings to work collaboratively and strategically, formulating solutions to end the anti-social behaviour. The guidance was updated in 2021 so that victims can now attend the community trigger review meeting or produce a statement to have their voice heard at the beginning of the meeting.

6.     Establish a precedent of using the community trigger to put victims first and deter perpetrators.

ASB Help welcome interested organisations to look at what the Pledge is and how subscribing to it will show commitment to victims of anti-social behaviour.  The Manager advised it is a really good tool when used well and they she has never sat in a community trigger meeting where has been no actions. ASB help can work with local organisations to work on these processes and then it also shows that local authorties/ organisations have worked with them to sign the pledge.


The CEO advised that Plymouth had recently signed the pledge and this has enabled them to get the housing associations to have a more joined up approach to the community trigger so that there is a much for smoother journey for the victim.


Following the presentation, a panel member outlined that the levels of asb across Middlesbrough are high and there is a general feeling that the town has been let down by the judicial system.


Head of Stronger Communities, whilst not being able to comment of the judicial service advised that  Middlesbrough council are aware that they have a long way to tackle asb, however they work closely with partner agencies to look at this and address issues (as discussed in previous meetings with the panel). In terms of level of asb, there are pockets across the town, however looking at police records of asb over the past 5 years, the current level of asb is at its lowest.


The Manager of ASB Help advised that the definition of asb is subjective- key words are nuisance/ annoyance and alarm/ distress and we would never take away the seriousness of this. Even though it may be crime, the ASB tools and powers may be able to be used to address this due to the threshold test for civil legislation.


The Director advised that the term ASB is used a lot, however some activities currently being displayed is criminal activity and we are working with partner organisations to address this. The Council have daily briefings with partners to look at levels of asb/ crime and collectively we should set standards to ensure we have acceptable behavior across the town. The 2 year pandemic has also had a significant impact on crime and anti-social behavior.


A panel member also outlined that it would be useful to offer activities to deter anti-social behavior but sadly funding has put a stop to most of these activities.


The Head of Stronger Communities referred to the Asb policy (which would be circulated to panel members), where all early interventions are identified, including asb contracts, right to civil injunctions and criminal behaviour order. The Council work with colleagues from early help to registered social landlords to address these issues. In terms of perpetrators it is a 50/50 age split of perpetrators (under 24 years and over).


A panel member advised that they had never heard of the community trigger until the documentary and therefore felt wider promotion should be done on this.


AGREED- That the information be noted.


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