RESIDENTS blighted by anti-social behaviour in Oxford have been handed a new tool to help fix the problem.

The Community Trigger scheme, launched in the city earlier this month, means an independent panel will consider cases if no action is taken and will work to find out what went wrong.

Pc Mike Ellis anti-social behaviour officer for Oxford, said the initiative would help make sure reports of anti-social behaviour were not missed.

He said: “It is really for people who have rung up three or four times and nothing has happened at all. In which case they can activate the Community Trigger and if found to be accurate that would trigger a review of the case.”

The panel will be made up of representatives from Thames Valley Police, the city council, and housing associations.

Pc Ellis said: “With a number of agencies dealing with anti-social behaviour, particularly with the number of social landlords in the area, there is potential for cases to sometimes get lost. I am confident within the police and council we have very robust procedures.”

He added: “It is to add a safety net and a very clear process if someone has reported something on a number of occasions.”

Cases will only be looked at by the panel if reported problems have not been acknowledged, investigated appropriately, if the victims’ vulnerability has not been considered, or if the information has not been shared.

The scheme is being piloted in Oxford by the Home Office.

Liberal Democrat Tony Brett, shadow portfolio holder for crime and community safety on the city council, welcomed the scheme.

He said: “Something that gets the statutory bodies together is a good thing. Getting people to talk to each other is the way to tackle this stuff. Sometimes the housing association will assume the police is doing it and sometimes it is the other way around.

“Sometimes things just fall through the cracks.”

He also said it could help increase public confidence, adding: “I hear from people who have been suffering from anti-social behaviour for a while and they just get so worn down they don’t bother reporting it again.”

Changes in legislation expected later this year mean those responsible for anti-social behaviour will no longer be criminalised unless they are given a specific order as a result of a legal criminal conviction.