Using the community trigger to address anti-social behaviour

Published on 18 January 2022
Dyfed-Powys Police uses the community trigger to guide their actions and tactical options
Case study
5 mins read
Police officer Dyfed Powys

The anti-social behaviour (ASB) community trigger – also known as the anti-social behaviour case review – is a national process that notifies agencies to work together when there are three reported incidents of ASB within six months.

The approach is flexible and allows for different situations. For example, single reports from victims detailing a lengthy history of ongoing issues can be considered for the trigger.

The ASB powers and tools consist of mainly civil measures which allow for a wider amount of evidence to be admissible. The burden of proof is lower and action can be taken on the balance of probabilities.

The ASB community trigger at Dyfed-Powys

The neighbourhood policing team (NPT) considers each person’s needs and identifies triggers behind the behaviour by reviewing vulnerabilities and signposting at the earliest opportunity. This can only be successful through a joined up approach, not only with partner agencies, but also with colleagues and departments within the police.

Response officers are key to supporting this approach to ASB. Response teams need to be aware of the use of civil powers for problem solving. They are often key witnesses who can report behaviours.

Police community support officers (PCSOs) are trained to deliver mediation if both parties consent. Mediation is always preferred to enforcement as it allows for effective resolution without criminalisation.

The force’s legal team are consulted early in the process and regularly review material as it is being prepared.

The ASB community trigger process

Evidence files are collated and legally validated to make sure they reach the required standard. A structured process is adopted and this process is described in a persistent/vexatious caller document.

All interventions use the same process and are documented within MAVIS – a case management system for anti-social behaviour and low-level vulnerability.

Interventions are documented using the problem solving methodology OSARA – observation, scanning, analysis, response and assessment. This information is then used to build the lead officer statement if civil action is required.

The neighbourhood policing approach

Dyfed-Powys Police has a structured approach to tackling ASB. The first consideration is liaising with partner agencies and addressing any immediate vulnerabilities. If the behaviour continues there are opportunities to provide ASB warning letters or a letter of expectation.

If the behaviour persists after letters have been issued, officers use a multi-agency approach, jointly issuing a community protection warning (CPW) followed by a community protection notice (CPN) should there be any breaches. The next stage would be the application and service of a community protection order (CPO). Throughout this process, support and signposting is offered.

Supporting neighbourhood policing teams for successful implementation

Where possible, Dyfed-Powys Police ensures resourcing for officers and staff working in neighbourhood policing is ring fenced. This means that neighbourhood teams are not routinely deployed to other areas of operational policing. This approach supports officers and staff working in neighbourhood teams and allows them to focus on problem solving and early prevention.

Case study: using the ASB community trigger to protect a victim from cuckooing

A vulnerable victim with learning difficulties was living in a housing association property on an estate in the force area. Her partner was drug dependent and would periodically live at the property.

Her home was being visited and used by a number of individuals who were exploiting her by keeping her awake through the night, using illegal drugs and causing noise nuisance and intimidation to other residents. The victim was intimidated by these individuals and was afraid of any repercussions if she reported the incidents to the police or housing association.

The situation came to police attention through regular patrols of the area and engagement with local residents. Through partnership working and links with the housing association, a clear picture of the situation was building and sensitive intervention was required.

The concerns were raised and discussed in a problem-solving group meeting, which gave other agencies the opportunity to provide their knowledge of the individuals and offer further support to any proposed tactics.

The victim was visited by the neighbourhood policing team and housing officers. Drug and alcohol charities and mental health services became involved, offering support to both the victim and her partner. The offending individuals were identified and issued with first-stage ASB warning letters.

There was a period of calm with a reduction in calls, but this was short lived and the offending individuals returned to the area.

Community protection warnings (CPWs) were then issued. However, it was clear at this stage that more stringent safeguarding measures needed to be put into place that had tangible actions to deal with the individuals.

The decision was made to apply for a closure order on the property. This would protect the victim and her partner and allow the support agencies the time to engage and make positive progress with the victim to prevent the behaviour continuing.

The CPW’s remained in place and could be replaced with community protection notices should there have been any breaches by the offending individuals.

By approaching this problem in a structured way with multi-agency involvement from the beginning, Dyfed-Powys were able to evidence the need for a closure order.

The lead officer statement was completed using the MAVIS (vulnerable adult) record. This had been updated chronologically with all the partner agency involvement, support offered and joint visits made and the warnings provided to the problematic individuals.

Call demand to this property went down for both the police and the housing association.

Those offending individuals still had CPW’s so any dispersal of their behaviour could be dealt with immediately with community protection notices, leading towards a criminal behaviour order or civil injunction.

By using the ASB tools in this way, Dyfed-Powys were able to continue to work with the offending individuals if their behaviour moved to another location.

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