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Sallyann Ball Community Champion

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Anti-social behaviour - What exactly is it?


The term anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of selfish and unacceptable activity that can blight the quality of community life. Terms such as ‘nuisance’, ‘disorder’ and ‘harassment’ are also used to describe some of this behaviour.


Examples include:

* Nuisance neighbours

* Yobbish behaviour and intimidating groups taking over public spaces

* Vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting

* People dealing and buying drugs on the street

* People dumping rubbish and abandoned cars

* Begging and anti-social drinking

* The misuse of fireworks

* Reckless driving of mini-motorbikes.


A legal definition of anti-social behaviour is found in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The Act describes anti-social behaviour as 'acting in an anti-social manner as a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household' as the perpetrator.


Why is it important?


Anti-social behaviour ruins lives. It doesn’t just make life unpleasant; it prevents the renewal of disadvantaged areas and creates an environment where more serious crime can take hold.


Anti-social behaviour is a major issue in some of the UK’s more deprived or disadvantaged communities.


Anti-social behaviour is also expensive. It is estimated to cost the British taxpayer £3.4bn a year.


Why does it happen?


There are a variety of factors which increase the risk of anti-social behaviour. The more of these which are present, the more likely someone is to become involved in anti-social behaviour.



Poor parenting skills, a weak parent/child relationship and a family history of problem behaviour.



Truancy, exclusion and unchallenged bad behaviour.


Community life

Living in deprived areas with disorder and neglect, lack of community spirit, living in areas with an already high-level of anti-social behaviour.


Individual factors

Drug and alcohol abuse, alienation and early involvement in anti-social behaviour.


There are a range of supportive interventions available which can help individuals and/or their parents and families change their own behaviour and enable them to tackle some of the underlying problems.


What action can be taken?


Anti-social behaviour causes harm to individuals and the community and must be stopped as soon as possible, when the minimum harm has been caused.


The goal of any action is to:


* protect victims, witnesses and the community

* enable the perpetrator to understand the consequences of their behaviour

* make sure the perpetrator changes their behaviour.


Measures that can be used by the police and other agencies include:


* warning letters and interviews, contracts and agreements

* fixed penalty notices and penalty notices for disorder

* parenting orders, individual support orders, noise abatement notices, injunctions, dispersal powers and anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)

* ‘crack house’ closure orders

* possession proceedings against a tenant.


Action may be initiated by a number of agencies including the police, local authorities, registered social landlords, housing trusts and youth offending teams.


Plymouth ASBU


Plymouth anti-social behaviour Unit was set up in 2001 in response to a growing city-wide problem with anti-social behaviour. Predominantly dealing with ASB cases on council housing estates, but with the remit of tackling anti-social behaviour in all tenure types. Cases are referred to the unit from Housing Officers, other departments within Plymouth City Council, housing associations, the Police and registered social landlords.


The aim of the unit is to drive forward solutions for tackling anti-social behaviour issues, strive to engage with individuals to modify behaviour within a multi-agency, problem solving context and to work in partnership with other agencies.


The role of the Plymouth anti-social behaviour unit is to investigate cases of anti-social behaviour in partnership with Housing Officers, Devon and Cornwall Police, registered social landlords, tenants and residents associations, environmental services, youth services and other partners to ensure that anti-social behaviour is dealt with swiftly and effectively utilising both legal and non-legal solutions.


If you are suffering or have information relating to anti-social behaviour contact the "Together" anti-social behaviour hotline on 0845 6052222



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Sallyann Ball created this on 19 January 2010.
This was last edited on 19 April 2013.
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