Mendip joins several other areas around the country in piloting the Community Trigger scheme, before it is rolled out nationally.
The community trigger aims to support individuals, community groups or businesses who believe nobody is acting to tackle the anti-social behaviour they have reported.
Anyone affected by anti-social behaviour is entitled to use the community trigger if they believe no action has been taken to solve a problem that has been reported to the police, council or housing provider by three or more different people in six months, or by one person three times in six months.
The trigger brings all agencies with a responsibility to tackle anti-social behaviour problems together to review the case to try to find a solution.
Once the trigger has been activated, as long as the case meets the criteria it will be reviewed within 10 working days and a letter outlining the outcome of the review will be issued within three weeks.
Following this review, action could include the involvement of another agency, further investigations or the provision of emotional and practical support.
For example, in one of the other pilot areas a report of noise nuisance had been made to a housing provider, which was unable to gather supporting evidence. Following the community trigger review, the local authority’s environmental services team was involved and an action plan put in place to gather the evidence needed to take action.
The community trigger is being piloted for six months in Mendip by Mendip District Council, Avon and Somerset Police, Somerset County Council, Safer Somerset Partnership, Aster Communities and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group.
The trigger can be activated by using online forms on the websites of Avon and Somerset Police and Mendip District Council, by contacting the police on the non-emergency 101 number, or by writing to the Anti-Social Behaviour Coordinator at Bridgwater police station.
The pilot project will be officially launched by Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens at 12.30pm on Thursday 16th January 2014 at Aster Communities, Wells, Somerset.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Anti-social behaviour affects and hurts daily lives and people have a right to live without fear of harassment, abuse and threatening behaviour.
“I hope that the community trigger will help all the organisations involved focus on victims and give victims the power to make sure that the police or local authorities are taking action if they report something.
“Anti-social behaviour is the single most common reason that the public contact the police and the issue is continually raised with me by residents, and that is why it is a priority in the Police and Crime Plan for the police, council and other agencies.”
Mendip District Councillor Nigel Taylor, Chair of the Safer Somerset Partnership, said: “Anti-social behaviour can ruin lives and tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour is one of the key priorities for the Safer Somerset Partnership.
“The community trigger provides a new way for people to ensure they have had their concerns heard and that the agencies involved have done all they can to solve the problem.”
Darren Brazil, Aster Communities head of service – ASB, said: “We’re delighted to be lending our support to the community trigger pilot. We already work closely with Mendip District Council and Avon and Somerset Police to tackle all forms of anti-social behavior and this new initiative reinforces our partnership approach.
“Any scheme which aims to reduce instances of ASB can only be a good thing so we’re really looking forward to seeing how the pilot works.”
Chief Superintendent Nikki Watson, the Somerset Area Commander, said: “I’m very happy to be piloting this initiative in the Mendip area. We want to be sure that we are giving people who are driven to contact us about anti-social behaviour the best service possible.
“The community trigger will help us check that we have done everything we can as a police service and, crucially, that we have involved other agencies who may be able to help where we cannot.
“Anti-social behaviour takes many forms and can affect anyone: the family with young children struggling to sleep because of noisy parties next door; the elderly person with litter being dumped in their garden or the business which has drunks damaging its shopfront. We need to work together to solve these problems.”