Anti Social Behaviour
Changing Anti Social Behaviour Policy - the review
The Home Office review (2010) of the current tools and powers used to formally intervene to tackle and reduce anti social behaviour found that:
there were too many tools and powers, with practitioners tending to focus on using the measures with which they were most familiar
the bureaucracy and cost associated with some of the court orders (especially the Anti-social Behaviour Order) may encourage practitioners to use informal or voluntary tools to deal with serious incidents instead of formal and more controlling orders
the growing number of people who breach their ASBO conditions suggests the potentially serious consequences are still not deterring a peristent minority from continues antia social behaviour
the tools that were designed to help perpetrators of ASB deal with the underlying causes of are rarely used their behaviour
Changing Anti Social Behaviour - the proposals
new range of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour have been
unveiled by the government. Plans include powers to compel local
agencies to investigate anti-social behaviour if it has been reported by
several people or by the same person three times.This 'community trigger' is intended to tackle persistent ASB which has not been addressed by Community Safety Partnerships - it will place a duty on the CSP to take action and it is intended that the Police and Crime Commissioner will hold the CSP to account.
The new plans will replace 18 of the formal powers currently available with just five.
The diagram above shows where the Home Office envisages the new tools being used to tackle anti-social behaviour.
In effect it is the governement intention to 'force' local authorities, police and other local agencies will be forced to support victims of persistent anti-social behaviour (ASB) as part of plans to give them better tools and powers outlined by crime prevention minister James Brokenshire today.
This follows a government review that concluded there are too many tools for practitioners to tackle ASB some of which are too bureaucratic, too costly and do not address underlying problems. At the same time, the growing numbers of people who ignore their penalties suggested a persistent minority are still not being deterred from committing ASB.
A public consultation, launched in February 2012, proposes the above new measures to better protect communities from the serious harm caused by criminal and anti-social behaviour. Subject to the consultation the new tools will replace 18 of the formal powers currently available.
Proposals to streamline formal tools
- Criminal Behaviour Orders — issued by the courts after conviction, the order would ban an individual from certain activities or places and require them to address their behaviour for example attending drug treatment programmes. A breach would see an individual face a maximum five year prison term
- Crime Prevention Injunctions - designed to nip bad behaviour in the bud before it escalates. The injunction would carry a civil burden of proof, making it quicker and easier to obtain than previous tools. For adults, breach of the injunction could see you imprisoned or fined. For under-18s a breach could be dealt with through curfews, supervision or detention
- Community Protection Orders - one order for local authorities to stop persistent environmental ASB like graffiti, neighbour noise or dog fouling (Level 1); and another for police and local authorities to deal with more serious disorder and criminality in a specific place such as closing a property used for drug dealing (Level 2)
- Police 'Direction' powers — a power to direct any individual causing or likely to cause crime or disorder away from a particular place and to confiscate related items
Should we Police Anti Social Behaviour?
In Spring 2010, HMIC carried out a review of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in England and Wales. This included an Ipsos MORI survey in which ASB victims were asked about their experiences
and what happened when they called the police. HMIC also inspected the quality of the processes that forces use to tackle and respond to the problem.
Working with the Universities Police Science Institute at Cardiff University, they then used these results to identify how the police can best tackle ASB. The Cardiff University report Re-thinking the policing of anti -social behaviour was published in September 2010.
In launching the report Chief inspector of Constabulary Sir Denis O'Connor said combating ASB was not seen as "real police work" and "does not have the same status as 'crime' for the police". He was interviewed by John Humprheys on the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4 and was clear that "The public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime," "For them, it's just a sliding scale of grief."
In fact , according t the report, only a quarter of the incidents of
ASB - about 3.5million - were formally reported annually. But why?
Well Sir Denis was less clear about that but used the opportunity to
take a side swipe at Community Safety Partnerships for their 'patchy
response' to ASB.
When John Humphreys dug a little deeper it became clear that Sir Denis was at least partly promoting this report because he feared that when the police cut backs come - as a result of the reducing police budgets - chief constables will further withdraw from working to tackle anti social behaviour and Sir Denis was using this report as a leaver to at least try to divert the course away from what he clearly feels is the younger brother of serious crime.
So what can work?
Police services apparently have the best chance of providing victims with a good service if they do three key things:
Brief all relevant officers and staff (including neighbourhood policing teams, officers who respond to emergencies and CID officers) regularly and thoroughly about local ASB issues;
Regularly gather and analyse data and information about ASB places, offenders and victims in their area, and use this information to allocate resources to tackle the problems;
Provide their neighbourhood policing teams with the right tools and resources to tackle ASB, and then monitor the plans the teams put in place to resolve local ASB issues.
Current UK National Anti Social Behaviour Policy
The 1998 Crime and Disorder Act defines anti-social behaviour as 'behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people who are not in the same household as the perpetrator'. Among the forms it can take are:
- graffiti, fly tipping and abandoning motor vehicles
- abusive and intimidating language
- noise nuisance
- drunken or rowdy behaviour
However, the emphasis on tackling anti social behaviour and the constant search for effective remedies has led to some stark anomalies across the country with some local authorities supporting frequent use of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (Manchester and Camden being two examples of the very active use of these orders) whereas many others have strictly limited the use of ASBO's and have been more inclined to provide intervention and support services to divert people from anti social behaviour - see ASB Intervention Process Map.
Community Safety Partnerships and Anti Social Behaviour
Most CSPs have, since their inception, been committed to reducing anti social behaviour (ASB) and have identified this area of work as a local priority. In consequence many local authorities have joined with their partners to provide a holistic approach to reduce ASB through multi agency strategy implementation and, in some cases, joint enforcement services. It is now widely agreed that no one agency can effectively tackle these problems in isolation.
The principle of partnership working is now well recognised by the Government and local agencies alike and has been incorporated into legislation including the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which created statutory partnerships and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.
The problems associated with anti social behaviour are complex and so are their solutions but it is now generally accepted that left unchecked, anti-social behaviour brings misery to people's lives and damages communities. Its effects are most destructive in areas that are already fragile and where services are over-stretched.
Anti Social Behaviour Strategies
Many CSPs have developed ASB Reduction Strategies written with the aim of providing a co-ordinated partnership response and intended to be compatible with all the partners’ efforts and commitments to reducing anti social behaviour and realising the ‘Anti Social Behaviour National Strategy’.
These developments should be seen in the context of a range of other measures and initiatives, mainly arising from the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act aimed at ensuring a satisfactory and peaceful environment for local residents.
Controlling Anti Social Behaviour on the Streets
Research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Trust into the use of anti social behaviour enforcement against 'street users' points to a need for a major reappraisal of the types their use. The impact of enforcement on street users in England identifies that 'softer' forms of enforcement, such as controlled drinking zones and environmental design simply displace the problem, whereas harder formers of enforcement, such as ASBO's, have a powerful effect. But that any use of enforcement was a high risk and unpredictable strategy when working with vulnerable people (also see below).
New powers to tackle underage drinking, including making it easier for police to confiscate alcohol, move on groups of young people causing trouble and a new offence of persistent possession of alcohol by a young person came into effect on the 29 January.
The powers were introduced through the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and can be used by police forces across England and Wales. Guidance on the new tiered approach designed to tackle underage drinking in public places, culminating in the use of the new offence is available at:
Sustainable Anti Social Behaviour Reduction
ASB strategies need to support a range of interventions if the reduction in anti social behaviour is to be sustainable. They will focus on effective prevention, intervention, enforcement. An unbalanced strategy will focus on one of these areas (such as enforcement) but will consequently not lead to a sustainable reduction in anti social behaviour but rather, at best, a temporary reduction.
PREVENTION - This focuses on ways of ensuring that anti-social behaviour can be prevented from occurring through work to guide, advise and educate people, effectively deal with behaviours which if allowed to continue would cause anti social behaviour (for instance mental health issues, neighbourhood disputes and environmental degradation) and social and economic alienation. Reduction programmes must include targeted youth activities and youth services, schools advice and guidance programmes and ‘community capacity building’ through active social and economic regeneration.
INTERVENTION - has the perpetrator as the centre of focus to identify Perpetrators of ASB should be given the opportunity to change their behaviour. They should also be informed clearly of the consequences if their behaviour does not cease. Warnings backed up by credible and sustained intervention (often through the use of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts - see guidance below), work well to manage and further prevent individual acts of ASB. This should be backed up by work with young people at risk of being involved in higher levels of ASB and their families and carers. Additionally, intervention should include reducing the incidents of identified problems such as, enviro-crime, the ASB associated with drug use and gangs, prostitution in specific areas through targeted activity.
ENFORCEMENT - Ensuring that existing legislation is used systematically and consistently. Enforcement activity will include the active involvement of services to intervene in the lives of those causing ASB (as above) and will also involve the appropriate use of legal restraining orders such as Anti Social Behaviour Orders and injunctions. However, enforcement activity is far broader than and should include the overall enforcement activities of municipalities, the activities of social landlords, environmental and public protection services.
Anti Social Behaviour Links
'Toolkit' giving the background to anti social behaviour, an analysis of the issues and local solutions.
A new leaflet (February 2010) issued as part of the new government anti social behaviour campaign explaining where to go for help to tackle anti-social behaviour and how to help solve anti-social behaviour problems in neighbourhoods.
An ABC is a written, voluntary agreement between a person who is involved in anti social behaviour and the police and local services whose role it is to prevent such behaviour.
Citizens Advice Bureau pages on how to deal with anti-social behaviour in housing, including harassment, bullying, vandalism and noise.
A Joseph Rowntree Foundation Study looking at national attitudes to anti social behaviour and what measures have been taken to tackle it in three case-study neighbourhoods.