Best use of community safety or policing research
Lancashire Community Safety Partnership: Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Constabulary: Understanding of complex anti-social behaviour cases including cases presented at partner risk assessment conference (ASBRAC)
The volume of recorded anti-social behaviour (ASB) has been slowly decreasing over the last three years. However, the number of ASBRAC (Anti-Social Behaviour Risk Assessment Conference) cases has remained high with an increase in high risk cases.
ASBRAC is a multi-agency approach for supporting the most vulnerable victims of ASB. Often the victims are isolated or hard-to-reach groups and research shows that they are more likely to become repeat victims of crime and suffer poorer health.
No detailed research has been conducted on ASBRAC cases in either Lancashire or Nationally. Research is difficult as there is no specific software solution or recording mechanism in place. ASBRACs are recorded differently across Lancashire with most of them in Word documents, which severely limits performance monitoring and identifying key determinants and risk factors.
We collected 12 months data from across Lancashire, painstakingly reading through all 199 records, setting up a new database, coding different variables and then conducting various analyses to examine types of cases, times, locations and any specific correlations.
The findings identified mental health (43% of cases), noise nuisance (35%) and ‘hate’ incidents (18%) as significant issues. This has resulted in a re-prioritisation of work streams and recommissioning services to tackle the identified issues.
The partnership and the constabulary considered ASB and noise a low priority. However, the public consider ASB as important a priority as crime. Using this work as an evidence base, the partnership have raised the priority of ASB and the constabulary have included noise nuisance within its early intervention response.
This entry clearly demonstrates the key principles for this award in that it shows a sound framework for research and analysis to better understand local problems that have a significant impact on the health of vulnerable individuals within the community. This group of vulnerable people were often missed from being supported as ASBRAC cases had been, up to this point, classed as a low priority.
The community safety partnership analyst (part of a team of partner-funded analysts in Lancashire) identified the problem through dedicated analytical research (use of inferential statistics, police intelligence data and wider partnership data) and painstaking efforts to research a year’s worth of cases and code key variables to allow for detailed analysis.
Key findings demonstrated that:
- ASBRAC cases clearly show that policing is more than dealing with crime.
- Mental Health was reported in 43% of cases either as a determining factor or as a result of the anti-social behaviour itself; this rose to 63% for cases between direct neighbours.
- A third of cases involved noise nuisance; there is a strong correlation between mental health and noise
- Race was reported in 13% of cases, a third of which were high risk;
- 5% of cases were classed as hate against LGBT.
- High risk cases accounted for 23% cases (the high risk cases were female biased, accounting for 63% (26) of the total).
- One third of cases involved alcohol or drugs or both, a third of these also reported mental health as an aggravating factor.
- In one in five cases the perimeter of harmed person’s property was targeted – criminal damage is a common activity as part of the ASB.
The output from this research, a Partnership Intelligence Assessment (PIA), has been used to influence the Lancashire ASB group in prioritising ABSRAC cases and engaging with services to tackle vulnerable people with mental health issues. It has also been used by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) as part of his commissioning of victim’s services to ensure that these services are not just for victims of crime.
The research has challenged the media perception of ASB. Supported by the Living in Lancashire residents’ survey, this research has demonstrated that local residents consider the tackling of quality of life issues as much as a priority as that of tackling crime. Local community safety partnerships have now made specific plans to respond to noise nuisance as early as possible to ensure cases don’t enter a ‘cycle of decline’.
Furthermore, Lancashire Constabulary is developing a software solution to improve the case management and data recording of ASBRAC cases. This system sits under the Early Action team who can link cases to mental health triage teams.
In a climate of austerity there is a tendency for key partners to retrench to carry out only statutory responsibilities. This research demonstrated that policing is more than dealing with crime. It is about working in collaboration with social services to support the most vulnerable in local communities. It also demonstrated that policing needs to rethink some of its approaches to tackling harm in local communities.
This work has influenced local ASB groups and has firmly fixed tackling ASB on the agenda of all community safety partnerships. In addition, it has demonstrated the value of the analyst role. Through systematic research and analysis, the analyst was able to challenge beliefs that ASB was just intolerance in local communities or drunk ‘hoodies’. She has been able to evidence that the most serious cases of ASB have a detrimental impact on victims, and that dealing with mental health issues is a regular occurrence in most cases.
She has represented the analyst role with true leadership qualities and influenced the level of priority placed on tackling ASB at a local and a strategic level. The research has been very timely given the focus on partnership working and early intervention.