Posted: Tuesday 11th August 2015
I am the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Champion for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC). What this means is that I work closely with police colleagues in the Local Policing and Problem Solving Teams at Police Headquarters. This is while keeping informed of local issues by staying in touch with ASB Coordinators and external partners across Avon and Somerset, such as local authorities and social housing landlords.
I have to confess that ASB is a term I don’t particularly like. My problem lies with its wide definition that encompasses a vast spectrum of behaviour that lies on the fringe of illegality, and all too often is accompanied by a set of unhelpful stereotypes and presumptions.
Back in 2006 when I was studying for my Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, I spent six months patrolling with the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) of my home town, Weymouth. I saw first-hand how minor disagreements and misunderstandings could quickly escalate into serious incidents.
Sue has always said ‘ASB is tomorrow’s crime’ and not only that it can and does destroy peoples’ lives.
I have spent some time recently reviewing closed ASB cases from across Avon and Somerset with an independent panel of everyday people. We heard a number of 101 and 999 phone calls and looked at a collection of recorded information, documented in police logs and reports, with a fine tooth comb.
I have found reviewing ASB cases to be a really interesting insight and it is clear that tackling ASB is now part of the Force DNA. On review of the cases there was no doubt in our minds that it is respected and treated as seriously as other crimes.
I also saw that very many officers plainly possess agile, original minds and as the records attest, do an incredibly good job. The vast majority of the logs I read bear the hallmark of real empathy, tenacity and commitment to doing the right things for victims.
It’s clear that it’s not ‘just ASB’ but something far more than simply a minor nuisance.
This year, I found myself a victim of ASB at the hands of a drunken neighbour. His behaviour was getting to me so much I considered moving house. I’m glad I persevered with the 101 number on all those occasions because now my neighbour has been evicted and moved to a property that can support his needs better. I chose to keep where I worked to myself and was thoroughly impressed with how quickly and efficiently my local beat team handled my case.
It’s an exciting time for ASB with the launch of the new tools and powers as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. We’re already seeing some great results from some of the new powers; namely Community Trigger and Dispersals. Community Trigger enables victims to ask an appropriate agency to carry out a review of their response to the ASB they reported where they feel they did not get a satisfactory response.
The OPCC is also looking at how we work with social housing landlords and local authorities, more specifically how the Constabulary share information with them. It is clear more needs to be done but there’s a healthy appetite from both sides to work better together. Partnership working and shared responsibility will continue to be our focus as we launch the new operational ASB delivery plan.
To find out more about the ASB priority in the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan click here.
Custody Visiting and VCSE Officer and ASB Champion