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Kent Police is changing the way it responds to calls about anti-social behaviour (ASB) to improve the service given to victims.
From now there will be early identification of individuals and communities most at risk of harm, making sure they receive an appropriate and priority response.
It follows an internal review and an extensive consultation with individuals, communities and organisations across Kent including a range of advisory groups.
The feedback from these communities, and national recommendations made by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) have shaped Kent Police's new ASB policy.
It also draws on the lessons learned from a number of high profile national cases (Garry Newlove, David Askew, Fiona Pilkington and Francesca Hardwick) which have highlighted the tragic consequences of ASB in extreme cases.
Staff will be trained using a new Kent Police based model called 'DEAL' (Define the problem, Early intervention, Action based approach, Listen and feedback).
For every call to Kent Police about ASB, the call handler will now use a more sophisticated method to assess the level of harm and risk and give each one a score.
The higher the actual or potential harm, the increased level of police or partner response there will be.
Each call will be graded according to the following criteria:
'Immediate' Calls include those where the ASB incident is taking place and there is danger to life, violence is being used or there is immediate risk of it being used.
'High' Calls include those ASB incidents where prompt attendance may identify and/or locate an offender or attendance is required to reduce a current risk to a person or property and/or prevent crime.
'Scheduled' Calls are ASB calls include those where the needs of the caller can be appropriately met through scheduling because the response is not time critical, the Neighbourhood Teams are already aware and dealing with the issues or the caller has asked for neighbourhood officer by name.
A response officer will be sent to callers identified as vulnerable or repeat victims of ASB, and their attendance will be 'immediate' or 'high' according to the above criteria. They would then carry out a more detailed risk assessment based on the level of risk and harm involved.
Where repeat callers are not vulnerable, or where the incident has ended or another agency has been established as taking the lead, then attendance will be 'scheduled'. This may include the neighbourhood officer or PCSO (or another agency) visiting at a mutually convenient time to investigate and resolve the issue.
All ASB calls will be reviewed by neighbourhood policing teams or community safety units to ensure greater quality assurance, and all victims will be kept informed of police action taken, and to ensure they are satisfied with the progress made.
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Brandon said: 'Our new approach will help us to understand, more than ever before, the harm and impact that ASB can have on individuals, groups and communities, particularly those who are vulnerable.
'This will help ensure that our policing response meets the needs of those reporting it by acting quickly to disrupt and stop ASB, and encouraging those suffering to come forward.
'Actual reported rates of ASB in Kent are comparatively low, but perceptions tend to be high and this can have a negative impact on our communities. Our new strategy also aims to tackle perceptions and concerns relating to ASB.'