Dedicated team tackling anti-social behaviour with unique priority plan

Victims of anti-social behaviour in Luton are being supported by a dedicated team which aims to put their needs first.

Funded by Luton Borough Council and Bedfordshire Police, the innovative team was praised by an HMIC report for their “excellent service” to victims.

Anti-social behaviour figures are still on the rise in Luton, but the priority anti-social behaviour case management team has had an 80 per cent success rate in resolving cases since they started in November 2011.

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Council officer Vicky Hawkes who manages the team said: “Anti-social behaviour means different things to each individual. Something which might not bother one person could be having a serious impact on someone else.”

Whether it’s a group of youths throwing stones at an elderly person’s house, or someone letting their dog foul in the street without clearing it up, if it is causing someone serious distress, the team will help them.

Cases are assessed to see what impact the behaviour is having on the victim(s), and those with a high priority are tackled by the special team, while those of lower prioirty are taken on by the local policing teams.

For the priority cases, each victim or household is given a dedicated case manager, so that every time they report an incident they speak to the same person who knows the history. Partnerships with other agencies including social services, housing association, Victim Support services and Safer Luton Partnerships mean victims are offered all kinds of help.

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Vicky said: “Anti-social behaviour is not always a criminal offence, and it might be that the person affected benefits more from the support of a counsellor or a housing association than a police officer, but without the help of our team they might not find that help.”

As well as five PCSOs and two community support officers who work shifts and patrol until midnight, the team have a victim ‘champion’ who works one-on-one with victims confidentially, to help them with things like job-hunting and applying for benefits.

Vicky said: “Of all the cases this year, 80 per cent have been resolved. Those people are no longer suffering, and we are very happy about that. It’s down to the individual experience and that’s why our assesment is focused on the impact on the victim and their current coping mechanisms.”

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: “This scheme is unique and tailormade for Luton. This particular matrix might not be quite right for some other town, but it is specifically suited for Luton and its problems. There are other forces across the country who use risk assessment to identify prioirty cases, but we are quite unique in how we have established our team to deal with them.

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“Nobody should live in fear or be upset by how they are living. To some people what they are dealing with might seem a minor thing, but it can be having a devastating effect on that person.”

If you are suffering from anti-social behaviour, call 101.