It’s ASB Help’s first blog on Charity Today so I thought we would start with some information about our charity and anti-social behaviour (ASB).
ASB Help was established in 2013, in the wake of the tragic death of Fiona Pilkington and that of her disabled daughter Francecca Harwick. The family suffered from years of ASB where no effective action was taken despite making over 33 complaints to the authorities. Fiona, clearly pushed to the brink, thought that suicide was her only option and sadly in 2007 after suffering persistent ASB for 10 years, she drove to a secluded spot with her daughter and set their car alight. This case marked a pivotal moment in the history of ASB and many lessons have been learnt. There was a failure to recognise the family’s vulnerability, or look at the persistent ASB as a wider case of harassment. Consequently, by not looking at the case in its entirety, the risk of harm was not identified and the family were not safeguarded appropriately.
But what exactly is ASB? This is a difficult question to answer but I would say it is a broad term often used to describe a wide variety of behaviours some of which are criminal. What is important to recognise is what constitutes ASB is subjective and whilst I could provide numerous examples of specific types of behaviour, what you may consider as ASB, another person may not. This is why it is important not to solely focus on the types of behaviour but also the impact and harm that it is causing. This is referred to as a ‘harm centred approach’. The key words to remember in relation to ASB are nuisance, annoyance, harassment, alarm and distress. You can never underestimate the cumulative impact of persistent ASB and the detrimental impact that it can have on people’s health and well-being. Everyone should feel safe in the peace and comfort of their own home, no one should fear walking out of their own front door.
One thing is for sure, a one-off party, cats coming into your garden, babies crying and general living noise are just a few examples of incidents that are not considered as ASB. Why not? A one-off party may cause a nuisance in the immediate term but as suggested, it is a one off and not persistent. A baby crying or even a toilet flushing is just day to day living noise that people will hear when living in a flat or if you have adjoining neighbours.
It is important to recognise that most cases of ASB are resolved through early intervention, however, there are a few cases whereby legal action is required. In an ideal world, a victim informs the relevant authorities of the ASB, a case is opened, effective action taken, and the matter is then closed. Unfortunately, it is recognised that this does not always occur and sometimes cases slip through the net. We recognise that Fiona Pilkington’s experience is not an isolated case.Given the number of suspected cases of unreported crime and ASB, there could be many vulnerable people whose lives are being blighted by persistent ASB, who do not know where to turn or are too scared to formally report it.They may even believe reporting it will not make any difference or could even make things worse.
ASB Help seek to provide ASB victims with help and advice so they know who to report matters to. There is a clear need for coordinated information and advice that is readily accessible to those who need it. We also work with practitioners as we recognise that the more knowledge and expertise practitioners possess, ultimately will result in better outcomes. We have a particular interest in the Community Trigger (also known as the ASB Case Review) introduced in the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which seeks to empower victims who are continuing to suffer persistent ASB but feel that more action can be taken to resolve the issue.
To quote some recent feedback: –
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for producing your website – as at that point I had reached crisis point’.
‘ASB Help have provided us with support throughout some extremely complex cases. Their expert knowledge has proved invaluable and has helped to progress cases and signpost victims to further assistance’.
ASB Help also works directly with government departments and key stakeholders to promote best practice in relation to the community trigger and the other tools and powers introduced by the 2014 Act. We strive to represent victims collectively and lobby for change to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose, ASB victims are listened to, supported and placed at the heart of the response when tackling ASB.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any further information or visit: https://asbhelp.co.uk.