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City council didn’t do enough to help abused resident

Coventry City Council did not consider what else it could do to help a man who was subject to homophobic abuse when he called on officers to help, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The man, who lives in a housing association property in the city, reported his neighbours to the police and his housing association for their bigoted behaviour on a number of occasions.

The man’s MP and local councillor asked for the local community safety partnership to hold a Community Trigger Panel meeting, which involved the police, housing association and Coventry City Council. This should have proactively looked at how to address the antisocial behaviour, but instead it merely reviewed the police and housing association’s response to his concerns.

The panel decided not to take any further action. The man appealed to the council, but it concluded he had not provided any new evidence that might overturn the panel’s decision.

The council encouraged the man to accept an offer to meet with the council, police and housing association to help resolve his concerns. Since then, the man says the antisocial behaviour has escalated and he has reported a further assault to the police. He says he has been insulted in the street and feels intimidated by his neighbours and their friends.

The man complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman who criticised the council’s lack of initiative in helping to tackle the situation. It also found fault with the way the man was not invited to the panel meeting, and with the council’s record keeping.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“In this case it appears the council has misunderstood the purpose of the trigger and the proactive role it should play in finding solutions to antisocial behaviour.

“Government guidance says that when completing a Community Trigger Review, parties should take a problem-solving approach to finding a solution. But the council did not consider if there was anything it could do under its own powers, whether individually or working with other agencies, to improve the man’s situation.

“I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations and hope the review it will carry out of its area’s Community Trigger policy will improve the system for others experiencing antisocial behaviour in the city.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the man.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council will review the Community Trigger Policy and procedures with its partners to ensure it reflects a proactive approach. It will also ensure the relevant officers and members receive training on how to effectively complete a Community Trigger review.

Article date: 26 May 2022