Anti Social Behaviour

Changing Anti Social Behaviour Policy - the review

The Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 is intended to:

".....introduce simpler, more effective powers to tackle anti-social behaviour that provide better protection for victims and communities. The new Community Trigger and Community Remedy will empower victims and communities, giving them a greater say in how agencies respond to complaints of anti-social behaviour and in out-of-court sanctions for offenders. The Act will also tackle irresponsible dog ownership and the use of illegal firearms by gangs and organised criminal groups, strengthen the protection afforded to the victims of forced marriage and those at risk of sexual harm, enhance the professional capabilities and integrity of the police, amend the port and border security powers in Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to ensure that they strike the right balance between the need to protect public safety and the protection of individual freedoms and amend the Extradition Act 2003 to strengthen public confidence in, and the operational effectiveness of, our extradition arrangements."1

The commencement dates for the anti-social behaviour provisions will start later in 2014. A government factsheet can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251344/Factsheet_Bill_overview_-_Lords_Introduction.pdf

The overarching aim of the Act is to provide more effective powers to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB): protect victims and communities and treat the underlying behaviour of perpetrators.Draft guidance and draft regulations for the absolute ground for possession and the Public Space Protection Order are available on line at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/anti-social-behaviour-crime-and-policing-bill-anti-social-behaviour.  The practical effect of this is to give victims and communities more power to define and respond to ASB and impose positive requirements on perpetrators to address the causes of their behaviour. The Act replaces 19 existing powers dealing with anti-social behaviour with 6 broader powers, streamlining procedures to allow a quicker response to ASB. The government envisages that these powers will make it easier for victims and communities to take action against ASB and reduce repeat violations. Notable gaps in the Act include a funding mechanism for positive requirements to engage with support and clear legal standards which address human rights challenges, particularly in regards to the new Absolute Ground for eviction.
The Act has 14 parts: Parts 1-6 deal with Anti-Social Behaviour; Part 7, 8, 9 and 10 deal with Dangerous Dogs, Firearms, Protection from Sexual Offences and Prohibitions on Forced Marriage; the remainder of the Act addresses policing, extradition, criminal justice and court fees.

The Act adopts most of the recommendations contained in the Home Office review (2010) of the 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

The range of measures 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.

Streamlining formal tools

  • Criminal Behaviour Orders — issued by the courts after conviction, the order will 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.

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 Links

Anti Social Behaviour Strategies: Finding the balance

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.

_______________________________________________________

1. Home Office introduction to the act.