Running from Monday, July 18, to Friday, July 22, ASB Awareness Week 2022 aims to encourage communities to take a stand against ASB and highlight the actions that can be taken by those experiencing it.
As regular reader of this column will know, tackling ASB is one of four priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.
Organised by community safety organisation Resolve, the week features a series of events all across the UK involving councils, police forces, housing associations, charities, community groups and sports clubs.
My team has been taking its engagement vehicle to some of the areas most affected by ASB, popping up in hotspots like central Exeter, Torquay town centre and Truro in the past month. This week we will be supporting a big push by police and partners in Plymouth, with the team visiting a different community on each of the five days.
It is a timely campaign. Evidence shows that in our force area ASB peaks in the summer months. This is due to a number of factors, we have more visitors and more people are out and about on our roads, visiting our coastal resorts and pubs and nightclubs. Neighbourhood disputes can also rise as the temperatures do as people are more likely to eat and drink outdoors and notice one another as windows are kept open.
Of concern to me is that while the number of reported ASB incidents in the force area shows signs of falling, they still account for 32,876 in the year to July 2022 and we know that the types of crime that constitute ASB are under reported.
Across three years the most common types of ASB in Devon and Cornwall remained rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour, rowdy nuisance neighbours and street drinking. There has been a huge increase in the number of complaints about fireworks.
Often, such as with issues such as fireworks, victims don’t know who to turn to as some is dealt with by councils and some is criminal. It would be worth raising a noise nuisance complaint about persistent setting off of fireworks with your local authority – however, if that firework was targeted at a person or property it is probably a criminal matter, although either police or local authority should be able to direct you to someone who can help.
I am urging you not to suffer in silence if you experience ASB. Recent YouGov research found that more than half of people (56%) believe ‘more needs to be done’ to tackle ASB in their community. However, after they witnessed or experienced ASB, a similar proportion of the public (57%) said they did not report it to anyone.
There is some fabulous partnership work going on between ASB council officers in Devon and Cornwall and it was great to meet Stephen Lennon, Truro’s ASB officer, last week. He has built a solid relationship with his neighbourhood policing team, local businesses and residents to tackle some of the challenges the community faces there.
I was also pleased last week to see police react firmly to drinking and vandalism in the beach at Polzeath, Cornwall, using powers under the 2014 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to ban groups from meeting there for 48 hours from Thursday (14th July) to Saturday night, although it is depressing that a minority of people cannot be trusted to enjoy our stunning natural environment without spoiling it for others.
There is much work to be done to tackle ASB. My view is that we need to nip it in the bud before it escalates to a point where it has a long-lasting impact on the lives of victims and communities.
For that to happen we need more people to report it. And if you are being ignored there is a way forward that could ultimately mean your case comes to me. If you or others have reported three incidents or more in a six-month period you can activate the Community Trigger (also known as ASB Case Review) through your local authority. Provided your case meets the thresholds set out in law then the agencies must carry out a joint review of your case. This includes looking at the circumstances, assessing action taken and working together to see if there are further steps that could be taken. They should also be keeping you, as the victim, informed and ensuring you have access to any support you need.
The trigger can really work but unfortunately 94% of people surveyed by YouGov said that they have never heard of it. If you have tried the trigger and are unsatisfied with the outcome you can ask for me to review it.
Details of how to request a trigger or a trigger review can be found on my website at www.devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk/about-us/community-trigger/.