Police to test new ways of protecting the vulnerable from yobs

Too many victims of anti-social behaviour have slipped through the cracks and a new approach is needed to protect vulnerable people, the Home Office said yesterday.

Eight police forces will change the way they respond to calls, introduce a new system to log complaints and improve their IT systems in a seven-month pilot project designed to help quickly identify and protect vulnerable victims.

The move follows the death of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of abuse from a teenage gang.

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Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said: "It is not acceptable that those most in need either slip through the net or are plain ignored.

"The technology exists to allow agencies to introduce a smart way of handling such complaints and a simple way of sharing information – they need to use it.

"It is essential those who raise the alarm and ask for help are listened to and their complaints acted upon promptly."

Ms Pilkington, 38, torched her Austin Maestro car at a lay-by near her home in Barwell, Leicestershire, while she and 18-year-old Francecca Hardwick sat inside in October 2007.

Their deaths followed 10 years of torment at the hands of yobs who taunted them and pelted their property with stones, eggs and flour.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Edens, the lead on the issue for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the pilot scheme "will focus on improving handling and logging of complaints as well as looking at improvements to IT systems to ensure information from partners is shared more easily".

The trials, in Avon and Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, South Wales, Sussex and West Mercia will run until July. The Home Office said they will focus on creating an effective call handling system, identifying the most vulnerable victims, information-sharing between agencies and engaging with communities to "clearly set out the issues which are causing the most harm to individuals and neighbourhoods" and how they will be tackled.

Home Secretary Theresa May has said the Government's approach to tackling anti-social behaviour must be turned on its head, with strong community action being used to bring back a sense of personal and social responsibility and to make anti-social behaviour "unusual, abnormal and something to stand up to".

Last year she issued a call to action for community activists to tackle neighbourhood problems alongside frontline services.