News story

Focus on victims

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Changing the mindset' of police and partners is the key to tackling anti-social behaviour, according to a report published by the home office today.

The report, ‘focus on the victim: summary report on the ASB call handling trials’, summarises the findings of eight police forces which trialled new approaches to handling calls from the public to ensure repeat and vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour are identified and prioritised more effectively.

The forces which volunteered for the trials - Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan, Sussex, West Mercia and South Wales - designed their own projects based on five key principles:

  • creating an effective call handling system;
  • introducing risk assessment tools to quickly identify vulnerable victims;
  • installing off-the-shelf IT systems to share information between agencies;#
  • agreeing a protocol with all agencies for dealing with cases;
  • working with communities to establish what activities are causing most harm and outline how they will be tackled.

The eight forces have reported encouraging initial results from the trials - including better working relationships with other agencies, an improved service to the victim and the start of a shift in culture, with call handlers responding to the needs of the victim rather than just ticking boxes.

Lord Henley minister for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour reduction (ASB) said:

‘Anti-social behaviour has a huge impact on the quality of life of individuals and communities. It remains a persistent and serious problem and the old ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t working.

‘The trials show some encouraging results and the difference a shift in attitude can make. The starting point must be the impact that behaviour is having on victims.  But there is much more still to do.

‘That is why we are overhauling the whole system of dealing with anti-social behaviour to put the needs of victims at the heart of our work to tackle this issue.’

ACPO lead for anti-social behaviour Assistant chief constable Simon Edens said:

‘All eight forces, working locally with partners, have approached the call handling and case management trials with enthusiasm and innovation.

‘Effective practices such as developing better ways to handle and share information, using that information to ensure better responses to victims and ensuring different organisations work together to deal with cases are all measures that I would commend to other forces and their partners.

‘I firmly believe the results of this pilot will allow us to deliver a better service to individuals and communities and help us to keep them safe.’

The report also features detailed information about the individual projects to encourage other forces to consider introducing them in their local areas.

The call handling trials are just one element of wider reforms to tackle anti-social behaviour, which the government will announce shortly following its consultation ‘More effective responses to antisocial behaviour’.

Notes to editors

1. On 4 January 2011, the home office launched a new approach for handling complaints of anti-social behaviour to better identify and prioritise vulnerable and repeat victims: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/asb-victims.

2. The trials ended in July last year and the eight trial forces submitted their detailed assessments to the home office at the end of September. The report can be found here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/anti-social-behaviour/

3. The trials resulted in some encouraging outcomes among forces, including:

Avon and Somerset: It is now planning to call back 100 per cent of vulnerable and repeat victims after introducing a 24 hour call back process to undertake fuller assessments.
To find out more about the Avon and Somerset project please contact 01275 816350

Cambridgeshire: All partners involved with tackling anti-social behaviour concluded that ‘understanding and identification of harm has improved’ which had resulted in ‘more joined up processes’. It also reported that the use of a list of set questions allowed for a more structured conversation which led to greater caller satisfaction.
To find out more about the Cambridgeshire project please contact David Old on 01480 422480 or email: david.old@cambs.pnn.police.uk.

Leicestershire: Its call handling system flags repeat callers and shows where callers appear on other police systems. It was also exploring a ‘cloud-based’ IT system for information sharing between police and key partners to case manage ASB incidents, saying its risk assessment process denotes a major shift for police and partners.

To find out more about the Leicestershire project please contact PR Officer Royston Brooks-Lewis on 0116 2222 222 extension 2751.

Lincolnshire: Following the trials, the force now has a clearer picture of repeat and vulnerable victims, and risk assesses 75 per cent of ASB callers with the aim of 100 per cent. Partners are also using the same risk assessment process.

To find out more about the Lincolnshire project please contact 01522 558026.

Metropolitan: As a result of the pilot, all Metropolitan police service call handlers are asked to conduct an initial screening for victim vulnerability, based on a ‘drop-down menu’ on the computer system at our three call handling centres in London. A more detailed risk assessment is then undertaken by the investigating officer on the borough the call relates to. High-risk cases are flagged for immediate attention. Vulnerable and repeat victims’ cases are then discussed at daily ‘tasking’ meetings. To find out more about the Metropolitan project please contact 0207 230 2171.

South Wales: A new partnership anti-social behaviour database now leads a victim-driven approach, with incidents attached to records of individual victims. This has been particularly useful in identifying vulnerable and repeat victims. There was also general feeling among all partners that the approach was more victim-focused.

To find out more about the South Wales project please contact Rhodri Kendall on 01656 869291 or email: rhodri.kendall@south-wales.pnn.police.uk.

Sussex: The creation of a forum allows partners to share good practice and ensure a consistent approach to dealing with victims. They also reconsidered their definition of a vulnerable person early on so that staff changed their thinking and ensured they focused on the harms to victims rather than the type of incident.

To find out more about the Sussex project please contact Clarissa Hawthorne on 01273 404173 or email: clarissa.hawthorne@sussex.pnn.police.uk

West Mercia: Now has a harm-focused approach to victims of ASB, where priority is given to repeat victims who are suffering most harm, and officers approach each incident with an ‘open and enquiring’ mind. It also reported that 100 per cent of ASB victims surveyed said they were satisfied with the way they were treated by the police.
To find out more about the West Mercia project please contact Jim Baker on 07812 003693 or email: james.baker@westmercia.pnn.police.uk.

4. Police forces also highlighted a number of areas where improvements are needed including:

reducing the reluctance among partners to share sensitive information;

ensuring the consistency of training among staff;

the need to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.

5.   For further information please contact the home office press office on 020 7035 3535.