The Community Trigger
For sufferers of noise nuisance the new anti-social behaviour powers provide a range of potential enforcement options that allow unreasonable behaviour that falls outside the scope of statutory nuisance to be tackled. The legislation also introduced a formal mechanism allowing victims to have their case reviewed. It is referred to as the Community Trigger.
The Community Trigger was introduced to provide a voice to victims who feel that their issue(s) are/were not being dealt with effectively by the agency investigating their concerns. If their application qualifies and meets the minimum qualification threshold it requires the Police and Local Authority (and perhaps housing associations if they have been co-opted) to review your case and propose an action plan to address the issue(s) you have raised.
For victims who feel that no action (or an inadequate response) was taken to their reports of anti-social behaviour it is a way of getting their case to be prioritised and reviewed by the relevant enforcement agencies. Those agencies are expected to share information and work together through this process rather than in isolation.
To qualify you must have made three separate incidents of anti-social behaviour to any one agency (Council, Police or social housing provider) within the last 6 months. Your application must be within 6 months of the report of the first complaint of anti-social behaviour and each complaint must have been made within one month of the alleged behaviour taking place. Not all anti-social behaviour will qualify; the behaviour complained of must have caused “harassment, alarm or distress”.
Following your application you should be contacted within a few days by a single contact who will acknowledge your application. Within 10 working days the agencies concerned will then need to pool the information they have regarding the case before determining whether your case qualifies for review. If successful, a panel of the relevant partner agencies (including Police, Local Authority, Registered Social Landlords and Local Health Board) will decide whether further action should be taken. Your single point of contact should inform you of the result within 30 working days from the date of your application. He/she may contact you during that time for more information.
- Make sure that you follow through on instructions provided by the investigating agency before applying for the Trigger. Allow them to conduct their investigations fully first; being too premature may cause delays or result in a lack of suitable evidence being available at the review.
- Make sure that you are able to provide details of the dates of each time you have complained about noise to any of the agencies involved. You will also be required to provide detailed information to support your case (information about the alleged anti-social behaviour).
- To qualify the behaviour complained of must have caused “harassment, alarm or distress”, so it is important that you emphasise how the noise has affected you within that context. If you are particularly sensitive for whatever reason or, for example, have health issues it is possible that these may also be taken into account when determining what action will be taken in response to your problem.
The Trigger does not replace the complaints procedures of the individual agencies involved, the Local Government Ombudsman or the Independent Police Complaints Commission. You will therefore be able to follow alternative mechanisms to redress any perceived maladministration or operational wrongdoing.