Crime and Policing Minister, Chris Philp talks about the importance of tackling Anti-social behaviour.
Anti-social behaviour is a menace. It is not petty or ‘low level’ crime. It manifests itself in different ways and at various degrees of gravity. It can be graffiti, litter or fly-tipping defacing community spaces. Perhaps it’s a neighbour keeping people up at all hours, or cars racing up and down the street. At the more serious end, the behaviour can be abusive, aggressive and intimidating. In legislation, it is defined as any conduct that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, so it can cover a wide range of unacceptable behaviour. But whatever form it takes, anti-social behaviour can have a lasting impact on individuals, neighbourhoods and communities. It’s an issue that matters a great deal to people and we know the frustration and worry it causes.
We absolutely understand these concerns and that is why the Government has made tackling anti-social behaviour a priority. In March we published the ASB Action Plan which sets out how we will stamp out anti-social behaviour and restore the right for people to feel safe in their homes and proud of their local area.
We wanted to go further than ever before and so the Plan is a bold and ambitious new approach to tackling the issue head-on. It is backed by £160m of funding and it gives Police and Crime Commissioners, Local Authorities and other agencies the tools and powers they need to tackle all forms of ASB across England and Wales.
To ensure there are consequences for those who commit anti-social behaviour, one of the key commitments in the Action Plan is the ‘immediate justice’ initiative which will deliver swift, visible punishment for perpetrators.
Whether it’s cleaning up the local park, repairing damaged property, or removing offensive graffiti, it is right that those responsible make good the damage suffered by victims and communities. The intention is that this should take place ideally within 48 hours of a referral and with offenders wearing high visibility clothing, making it clear to victims of the community that justice is being served. ‘Immediate justice’ pilots are expected to be fully operational in 9 police force areas by October. Our intention is to roll out this initiative across England and Wales from 2024.
We are also funding an increased police and other uniformed presence focused on anti-social behaviour in targeted hotspots where it is most prevalent. Again, initially we are supporting pilots in 10 trailblazer police force areas, before rolling out hotspot enforcement across all forces in England and Wales in 2024.
We know that many people do not report incidents of anti-social behaviour, either because they have no faith that it will be dealt with seriously; or because they don’t understand what actually constitutes anti-social behaviour and how to report it; or they fear there may be repercussions. A YouGov survey commissioned by Resolve makes stark reading: almost half (49%) of people surveyed who have witnessed or been a victim of anti-social behaviour in the last 3 years did not report it.
We need to improve how anti-social behaviour is reported and acted upon and the Action Plan commits us to do this and to improve accountability to the public. To address this, we are developing a new digital tool so that members of the public have a simple and clear way to report incidents of anti-social behaviour so that it is triaged to the agency or agencies that will work together to address the issue. Crucially we want those who have reported such incidents to receive updates on their case so that they know it has been received and is being acted upon.
ASB Case Reviews
We also want the public to know that they have the ability to challenge an unsatisfactory response to their report by requesting an ASB Case Review – previously known as the ‘Community Trigger’.
Resolve’s YouGov survey found that 94% of people don’t fully understand or know how to request an ASB Case Review, so we need to use every opportunity to promote and raise awareness of this tool and Resolve’s Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week in July was a golden opportunity to do this.
The Parliamentary launch of the Awareness Week on 3rd July was attended by the Home Secretary and Sarah Dines, Minister for Safeguarding, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to this important issue. ASB Awareness Week was the biggest and most impactful to date and we are incredibly grateful to Resolve for all their hard work in making it a success, and to all the many practitioners, organisations and agencies that were involved.
Although there were many events around the country as part of ASB Awareness Week, we know that practitioners and agencies do an amazing job day in day out responding to anti-social behaviour and supporting victims and there are many great examples of this.
Success story in Essex
A gentleman in Essex was suffering from the stress of a nuisance neighbour. The
neighbour was using drugs, riding noisy bikes, and carrying out loud anti-social behaviour on his doorstep. With the help of Essex Police, and by regularly reporting each incident, the troublesome tenant was evicted and issued with an order to not be allowed back. The bravery of reporting combined with the support of the police led to this success. The community can now leave their house freely, kids can play happily, and the fear of antisocial behaviour has hugely reduced.
The Government is serious about tackling anti-social behaviour. We are toughening up our response. It causes far too much damage and distress for our approach to be anything other than focused and relentless. We firmly believe that by working together we can have a real impact and drive the menace of ASB out of our communities.
How you can help
If you engage with any members of the public who are happy to share their story, the Home Office communications team are keen to share real stories to show the public the great work being done locally to support victims to stamp out ASB.