The main aim of this article is to be informative & pool all the information into one article, laws change & update so please contact your local police website or direct.gov website after reading for a more up to date information.
Anti-Social behaviour is a major problem within all our communities, from hanging around on street corners, gathering in groups outside of shops, skateboarding & BMX grinding on furniture and walls.
All can seem harmless by the people doing this, it may also seem harmless to most people who live around it.
But where it becomes anti-social is where people become afraid to use a local shop on a night time because 5-10 youths are stood outside, these youths may have just used the shop and are chatting outside.
But perceived by this person they may be a threat or harassment for many reasons but here are just a few..
- – They may have been asked on multiple occasions to buy drink & Cigarettes for underage youths, who become verbal and aggressive when told “NO”
- – They may just look scary to that person, “Am i going to be mugged?”, hoodies and jackets give out a perception that the youths are up to no good as you can’t see their faces.
- – They may have been almost knocked over while walking the path by youths riding skateboards, BMX’s, Scooters.
WHAT IS ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR
In the context of housing, anti-social behaviour is defined as acting in a way that is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to anyone.
There may be a fine line between anti-social behaviour and disputes between neighbours over relatively minor inconveniences, although these may, if persistent, become anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour can include:
- – Intimidation of neighbours and others through threats or actual violence
- – Harassment, including racial harassment
- – Verbal abuse
- – Homophobic behaviour
- – Systematic bullying of children in public recreation grounds, on the way to school or even on school grounds, if normal school disciplinary procedures do not stop the behaviour
- – Abusive behaviour aimed at causing distress or fear to certain people, for example, elderly or disabled people
- – Noise
- – Dumping rubbish
- – Animal nuisance, including dog fouling
- – Vandalism, property damage and graffiti.
What action can be taken if you feel you have an anti-social problem?
Before any legal actions are considered in an anti-social behaviour case the Community Services Team will work with victims, perpetrators and its partner agencies to help resolve the problems. None legal remedies include:
- – Verbal and written warnings to the perpetrator.
- – Environmental improvements undertaken by the council or landlord.
- – Outreach contact by youth workers with young people on the streets.
- – Activities in youth centres.
- – Enforcing tenancy conditions by social and private landlords.
- – Anti-Skate Studs / Fingers to deter skate boarding / BMX’s from damaging property (Skate Deterrent)
- – Fixed penalty fines for acts of anti-social behaviour and disorder, dog fouling, littering, drunken behaviour and graffiti.
- – Encouraging young people into diversionary activities such as sports, arts, culture, voluntary work, Princes Trust, Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
- – The Youth Offending Service and Probation Service work with offenders on a variety of schemes to change patterns of behaviour.
- – Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.
- – Tenancy support for the most vulnerable victims and perpetrators.
- – Swift removal of graffiti, fly-tipped rubbish, abandoned cars and litter.
- – Designated Public Places Order (DPPO) to discourage street drinking and associated disorder.
- – Test purchasing from off licences to discourage underage sales.
- – An active Youth Forum for young people.
- – Mediation services for neighbour disputes.
- – Various agencies in your area work with both adults and young people to prevent and treat drug and alcohol misuse.
Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) – ASBOs are civil orders designed to protect communities from behaviour that causes harassment, alarm and distress. ASBOs are awarded by the Magistrate’s Court and are applied for by the Borough of Poole and Dorset Police, and housing associations. The police may also apply for an ASBO upon conviction of a criminal offence if felt appropriate. The order is applied to an individual and usually prohibits them certain specified behaviours such as being in a specific area, undertaking specified acts or associating with named persons. Interim orders are available and can also in extreme cases be applied for without notice to the offender. ASBOs are not classed as a criminal conviction. However, should the person breach the ASBO by undertaking an act prohibited within it they are liable to arrest and the court can imprison them for up to six months. They will then have a criminal record.
Dispersal Order – If anti-social behaviour is being caused in an open or public space by a group of people the local council and Police can designate an area subject to a Dispersal Order under S30 Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003. The police can then direct people to leave the designated area and if they refuse they can be arrested.
Injunction – An injunction is obtained in the County Court and is designed to prevent or prohibit types of behaviour, access to a person’s or associating with named individuals. Local Authorities, landlords and individuals can apply to the court for an injunction. For information contact the court office or a solicitor.
Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction – Social housing landlords can apply for an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) to enforce tenancy conditions, to protect individuals and communities or to prevent certain behaviours. Interim and without notice orders are available to the applicants. If violence or threats of violence are evidenced the court can award a Power of Arrest whereby the police can arrest an individual for a breach of the order.
Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) – CBO’s are awarded by either the Magistrates’ or Crown Courts. Applications may be made by the Police or Local Authority on the back of a criminal conviction. The minimum duration is two years. The maximum period is unlimited. A CBO can restrict a person from being in a specific area; associating with named persons; and, being on the streets during certain times of the day and night. If the prohibitions of the CBO are broken, this will be deemed to be a breach of the Order. The person will then appear before the Courts and if found guilty of a breach, this is a criminal offence. A person may then be sentenced to a period or between six months and five years in prison; or, a fine; or, both.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC) – An ABC is a written contract between an individual who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and the council, police or social landlord. ABCs are most commonly used for young people, but they may also be used for adults, and will contain a list of prohibitions agreed to prevent future acts. ABCs have no force in law and are totally voluntary.
WHAT THE POLICE CAN DO
The police can take action about any anti-social behaviour which is a criminal offence and can prosecute someone who has:
- – Attacked another person, causing physical and/or psychological damage
- – Wilfully damaged someone else’s property
- – Behaved in a threatening or abusive way in order to intimidate or frighten or cause harassment, alarm or distress intentionally, for example, by stalking you or writing anti-gay slogans on the wall outside your home
- – Incited racial hatred or violence by, for example, distributing racist leaflets.
In England and Wales, the police can also get a court order to close down premises which are causing disruption to residents because of some serious disorder or nuisance problem.
You should bear in mind that the police have discretion whether or not to prosecute someone.
The police can issue on the spot fines (penalty notices) for some types of anti-social behaviour. In England and Wales, they can also apply to court for an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance, or an order to stop gang violence or protect someone against gang violence. In Northern Ireland, they can apply to court for an anti-social behaviour order.
The police must take very seriously complaints about anti-social behaviour which is discriminating against you. If you think they haven’t taken your complaint seriously enough, or if you think the police are discriminating against you, you may want to make a complaint about the police.
For more information about how to make a complaint about the police, see Complaints in Police powers.
In England and Wales, community support officers can take action about anti-social behaviour in certain circumstances. For example:
- – They can order people to stop cycling on the pavement
- – Disperse groups of young people who are gathering in a public place
- – Take children home after 9pm
- – Deal with young people truanting from school, including taking them back to school
- – Issue on the spot fines.
WHAT THE LOCAL AUTHORITY CAN DO
As a person who is suffering anti-social behaviour you can ask the local authority to deal with it, regardless of whether you are a local authority tenant or not. The local authority can:
- – Apply to a court for an order or injunction to stop or prevent someone’s anti-social behaviour in its area
- – In England and Wales, apply to the court for an order to stop gang violence or to protect someone from gang violence
- – In England and Wales, apply to court for an order to close premises where there is ongoing disorder or nuisance
- – Take action to stop noise, nuisance and threats to health
- – Take action to evict the person responsible for the behaviour, if they are a local authority tenant
- – Offer the victim alternative accommodation
- – Prosecute where the behaviour is a criminal offence
- – In England and Wales, take over management of a property where there are particularly serious anti-social behaviour problems.
If you want to ask the local authority to take action about anti-social behaviour, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
For more information on this subject please visit
We are interested in your stories of how you stopped anti-social behaviour in your area?
Was it a positive or negative experience?