Wales

Anti-social behaviour report criticises three Wales forces

Three of Wales' four police forces are not regularly identifying callers most at risk of harm from anti-social behaviour (ASB), a report warns.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says some victims in South Wales, Gwent and North Wales may not be getting extra support they need.

Dyfed Powys Police recently introduced a new system which allows it to better identify at-risk callers, it says.

All forces said they were tackling ASB.

The report, A Step in the Right Direction , follows an HMIC review in 2010 to find out how UK forces can best tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB).

The latest report into Dyfed Powys Police says the force has "recently introduced a risk-assessment procedure, and invested significantly in training to get staff up to speed with how it should be used; this has enabled the force to better identify callers who are at risk, and to decide how to respond to their call accordingly".

However, it adds: "HMIC found that meaningful data on vulnerable and repeat victims and ASB hotspots is not used at the force-wide daily management meetings, and that this reduces opportunities to more effectively manage how the force tackles ASB."

A statement from Dyfed Powys Police said the force had "made great strides in improving the way that we deal with our most vulnerable members of society".

It added: "We have critically reviewed the way that we deal with calls from the public and we now feel that our service is more focused on protecting them in their own homes and communities where they live."

The report said the remaining three forces had made some progress in tackling and understanding ASB since 2012, and there were other positives.

All of them, however, were unable to regularly or consistently identify callers "who are most at risk of harm from ASB".

In all three areas, it means some of the victims "may not be getting the extra support they need", it added.

North Wales Police assistant chief constable, Gareth Pritchard, said the force had invested in new IT and and systems to map ASB "clusters".

"However, we appreciate there is more to do, especially in the control room in identifying repeat and vulnerable victims and we have been working on these issues," he said.

South Wales Police assistant chief constable of territorial policing, Julian Kirby, said the force had increased its focus on anti-social behaviour in recent years, and used a "ground-breaking" database to more effectively identify repeat victims.

He said the HMIC report was a "quick snapshot" in time and since the opening of a new Public Service Centre which deals with all emergency and non emergency calls, the force was "getting faster and more effective in dealing with anti-social behaviour".

'Robust system'

Superintendent Paul Symes, of Gwent Police, said tackling ASB was one of the force's "top priorities", and since the HMIC review "we have put a robust system in place to help us fully risk assess each incident of anti-social behaviour that is reported to us.

"This point-of-contact system can identify whether calls are from hotspot areas and whether the caller is a repeat victim or potentially vulnerable".

He added that the force was "not complacent and will continue to work hard to target those responsible for creating problems for others in our communities".

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said: "Although HMIC's report shows that the police in Wales have improved in supporting victims of anti-social behaviour, they cannot be complacent - more needs to be done.

"It takes a lot of courage for victims to call the police and they need to know they'll receive a high level of support and be kept in the loop about their case.

"It is unacceptable that some police forces are lagging behind others.

"It would be in the best interests of both victims and the police for proven approaches of 'what works' to actually be delivered.

"We would be happy to work with the police to share our expertise and build on the improvements shown in this report."

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