Anti-Social Behaviour — by PCSO Andy Smith

by PCSO Andy Smith
Published: Last Updated on

Anti-social behaviour is a broad term used to describe the day-to-day incidents of crime, nuisance and disorder that can make a person’s life a misery—from litter and vandalism and public drunkenness or aggressive dogs to noisy or abusive neighbours.

Anti-social behaviour is defined as:

Behaviour by a person which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the person.”

(Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 & Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).

The term covers a wide range of unacceptable activity that blights the lives of many people on a daily basis. It often leaves victims feeling helpless, desperate, and with a seriously reduced quality of life. Terms such as ‘nuisance’, ‘disorder’, and ‘harassment’ are also often used to describe this type of behaviour.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is the law that guides what agencies can do about anti-social behaviour. Since the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 has been introduced, we have been tackling anti-social behaviour with agencies by using two different approaches.

Informal approach:

  • giving the offender a warning either verbally or in writing;
  • getting the offender to identify, acknowledge and try to resolve the causes of the behaviour (for example, does the offender only behave in a certain way when they have been drinking alcohol);
  • offender to agree to an Acceptable Behaviour Contract — a voluntary agreement between the offender and appropriate organisations such as the police, local council, or housing provider that commits the offender to abide by the terms of the contract until such time as the anti-social behaviour has diminished.

Formal approach:

  • police being able to force an individual or group away from an area for a period of time (no longer than 48 hours) through the Dispersal Power to a court granting a Civil Injunction (from early 2015) or a Criminal Behaviour Order. Failure to comply with either of these could result in a prison sentence for the offender and both the Injunction and Order can be granted for youths (aged over 10).
  • The local council will also be able to designate an area as having a Public Spaces Protection Order. This will aim to stop the activities causing issues for local people and it could impose a Community Protection Notice on an individual over 16 years, a business or ultimately, as a last resort, the police or council could seek to close down a premises or piece of land through a court Closure Order for potentially up to 6 months.
For local involvement and accountability, the 2014 Act also includes two measures called Community Remedy and Community Trigger.

Called ‘Be Informed’, the service is designed to inform parents and carers, via text message, of any anti-social behaviour incidents in the local neighbourhood that officers are attending. If their children are out at the time, parents and carers can then use this text as a trigger to contact their children, check their whereabouts, make sure they are OK, and reassure themselves that they are not involved in the incident.

It’s really easy to sign up for the service and it will provide parents and carers with peace of mind about the whereabouts of their children The scheme is running in the York and Selby area, with plans to share wider across the region.

For residents in York, to give your consent to join Be Informed and be kept in the loop on incidents of anti-social behaviour in the York area, email your mobile phone number and the name of the area you live to Beinformed@northyorkshire.pnn.police.uk.

If you have anti-social behaviour issues in your area please call 101 to report.

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