The Crime and Disorder Act (1998) defines anti-social behaviour (ASB) as “acting in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as (the complainant)”.
ASB can include a wide range of actions such as harassment, damage to property, vandalism, drunken and rowdy behaviour and noise nuisance.
What is certain is that ASB makes life a misery for very many people in our community. It may be difficult to tackle, but the Community Safety Partnership is determined to give priority to this vitally important area of work.
Examples of anti-social behaviour
- Noise nuisance
- Alcohol abuse
- Illegal trading
- Racist and hate incidents
- Substance Misuse
Referrals to the Council’s ASB Co-ordinator are from Partner agencies only. Where an individual seeks to make a complaint about ASB that person should do so to the relevant agency, such as the Police or a Council department.
All complaints are recorded.
Where an agency considers the incident or the pattern of behaviour serious enough, the relevant information will be passed to the ASB Co-ordinator for entry onto the Partnership database.
There is currently a four-stage process in place, which we hope will deal with the vast majority of cases by identifying and tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour
4 Stage Process
Stage 1: Warning Letter
A letter is sent to the person identified, and, in the case of those under-16, their parent or guardian, warning of the consequences of any further incident. All information is recorded on the ASB database.
Stage 2: Letter/Visit
If a second incident is reported within a reasonable time after the first, a second warning letter is sent to the offender and the parent/guardian if appropriate, detailing the two incidents complained of. A PC or a PCSO may also make arrangements for a visit to the offender’s home.
Stage 3: Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC)
An ABC is offered to the individual where their behaviour has not improved (see below).
Stage 4: Local Anti-social Behaviour group
This stage will only be reached in the more serious cases of ASB. At this stage a range of enforcement measures will be discussed such as an injunction, demoted tenancy, eviction or an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
Powers we can use to tackle Anti Social Behaviour
Written or verbal warnings can be effective in stopping people behaving anti-socially. Warning letters set out clear standards of behaviour reinforcing messages that ASB will not be tolerated. A warning outlines the type of behaviour, which is unacceptable, and advise that such future behaviour should not continue.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC)
This is a written voluntary agreement between a person involved in ASB and the Partnership. ABCs last for 6 months and are a quick, effective way of responding to ASB. It lists the behaviour that is not permitted.
The stages of identifying the problem, issuing warning letters and discussing the matter with the individual and parents often results in the behaviour ceasing without having to issue the voluntary ABC.
A range of injunctions are available and being used by local authorities to tackle ASB. Injunctions are flexible, straightforward and fast – a court can make an injunction within hours of a complaint and before the problem escalates allowing for immediate protection for others. Injunctions are civil remedies subject to civil rules of evidence and civil standard of proof. They can be an affective tool against those aged 18 or over. Breach of an injunction can result in a prison sentence of up to 2 years and / or an unlimited fine for contempt of court.
Injunctions offer immediate protection and set a clear standard of behaviour. They prohibit the person from engaging in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance. Injunctions are available to deal with housing related or public nuisance.
Eviction is a very serious sanction that should be used when other interventions have failed or when the nature of the ASB is very serious. It is important that the perpetrators of ASB are aware of the consequences of their behaviour.
Dispersal Orders can be used to tackle ASB and disorder in public spaces, such as shopping arcades or parks. Part 4 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 gives the Police powers to designate an area where there has been significant and persistent ASB and where groups of people have caused intimidation, alarm or distress to members of the public. In a designated dispersal area, the police can direct individuals to leave the locality and they may be excluded from the area for up to 24 hours.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO)
This is an order imposed in the Civil Court, or following conviction from criminal offences in the Magistrates, Youth and Crown Courts. An ASBO sets down prohibitions on an individual including exclusions from places, contact with individuals and certain actions, which are specific to preventing ASB. The minimum duration is two years, depending on the age of the person and seriousness of the behaviour.
Failure to carry out the conditions of the order is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment of up to five years, a fine not exceeding £5,000, or both.