Tag Archives: anti social behaviour

A Lack of Data

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 came into place to replace old anti-social behaviour powers (including ASBO’s), as people saw these to be ineffective. In replace of the 19 pre-existing powers, six new powers were put into place including Criminal Behaviour Orders, Civil Injunctions and Community Protection Notices. A spokesperson for the Home Office said that the new reforms gave victims “a stronger voice” and would put “victims and communities at the heart of the response”.

However, there is a strong lack of proof as to how effective new reforms and powers are, due to the Home Office not collecting statistics on most of these powers. Following on from the previous blog about the effectiveness of Community Protection Notices, we see it as a huge weakness that there is no central monitoring of CPN’s, their effectiveness or how often local councils use them.

CPNs are issued at the discretion of local councils which means one council may issue hundreds of CPN’s for issues that another council would not consider CPN matters. The Manifesto Club has been very vocal about this where CPNs are issued too freely, discovering that four councils in the South West of England had issued CPN’s to members of the public for feeding the birds. Feeding the birds is seen as a normal and positive thing and is also encouraged by animal welfare charities, so why are people being sanctioned for it, and additionally, why are they only being sanctioned for it in a specific part of the country?

Reluctance to Use CPNs?

Clearly there are several issues surrounding anti-social behaviour reforms, including Community Protection Notices, which need addressing to ensure victims are getting the best support they can. However, if reports continue to focus on the sometimes unreasonable and seemingly ridiculous reasons CPN’s are introduced, it will overall have a detrimental effect on the powers and reforms. Local authorities may become cautious to implement a CPN for fear of a backlash by the media and professionals, even if it would have been appropriate. This leads to more people able to commit anti-social behaviour and more victims suffering in silence.  There is a need for more best practice examples to help local councils see how they can successfully utilise them to help victims.

ASB Help did some research recently on the Community Trigger and learned of a case where a Community Protection Notice had been used to positive effect.  This was a lady who had suffered abuse and harassment from her neighbour for many years. Despite having difficulty trying to activate the Community Trigger (a problem experienced by many), eventually a Community Protection Notice was issued against her abusive neighbour for 12 months. Since this was issued, the neighbour has not breached the CPN, which proves that in the right situation, a Community Protection Notice is the correct order for the local agencies to issue.

However, there were many issues noted surrounding the whole process of acquiring a CPN including the difficulty of actually getting the perpetrator to answer the door to receive the CPN! The whole process took years and caused the victim and her daughter a lot of unnecessary distress. Local agencies should work together to provide effective care to support victims and implement the most appropriate orders and reforms, with injunctions and court proceedings being a last resort. The new legislation was supposed to make it quicker to take action against anti-social behaviour and avoid things dragging on for years.

Basic Data Required

To properly understand how effective the different elements of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 are working on the ground, central data needs to be collected.  With some basic data on how widely the different powers are being used, we can at least get a picture as to whether certain areas are over-using or under-using them, and where to get some best-practice examples to help practitioners use them effectively.

PCC promotion of the Community Trigger

What have Police and Crime Commissioners got to do with anti-social behaviour?

Well, we would suggest they have quite a lot to do with it!  Firstly, when they run for this elected post, they speak out about how they will help victims of both crime and anti-social behaviour.  They also speak out about helping vulnerable people, and in our experience it is often vulnerable people who are suffering from persistent anti-social behaviour which is making their lives a misery.

The government agrees that PCCs have a role to play – in its white paper ‘Putting Victims First’ it stressed the fact that PCCs have a key role to play in holding local agencies to account for the way they respond to victims of anti-social behaviour.

This white paper led to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the statutory guidance required PCCs to be directly consulted in setting up the Community Trigger/ASB Case Review in their local area.  Unfortunately the guidance falls short of requiring them to do anything further.  They ‘may’ be directly involved in the procedure through auditing case reviews, receiving appeals and/or monitoring the process itself.

With no mandate, many Police and Crime Commissioners have chosen to ignore it completely.  Clear evidence of this is how few PCC websites have a webpage explaining what the Community Trigger is and how to activate it.

Surely this is not too difficult to do?

Why should Police and Crime Commissioners promote the Community Trigger?

A review of each PCC’s Police and Crime Plans reveals the following:

bullet    63% (26/41)) of Police and Crime Plans have ‘Protecting the Vulnerable’ as one of their key priorities. The remaining 37% have mention of vulnerable victims within their plan. So 100% of Plans want to protect the vulnerable.

bullet     37% have a specific priority to tackle ASB. Sometimes this is included within ‘tackle crime and ASB’, in other cases it is specifically ASB.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) often meet people in their surgeries who complain about problems with anti-social behaviour so are also aware of the problems on the ground with ongoing failings from local agencies to respond effectively.

Given the Police and Crime plans suggest protecting vulnerable victims is a priority for them we believe they should have information on their website to explain to people what the Community Trigger is and how they can activate it in their local area.

In June 2018 only 21% of PCC websites had this information available. This represents 9 PCCs. A further 4 PCCs had some information on their website about the Community Trigger but it was only focused on the appeals process, or just a press release about its introduction in 2014.

The 9 PCCs who had information for victims about the Community Trigger (also called ASB Case Review) were:

1. Cheshire
2. Derbyshire
3. Devon and Cornwall
4. Gwent
5. Linconshire
6. Merseyside
7. Surrey
8. Warwickshire
9. West Yorkshire

Best Practice

On some websites you can navigate to the Community Trigger from the Home Page. Derbyshire is a good example of this: https://www.derbyshire-pcc.gov.uk/Home.aspx where it can be found under the ‘Supporting Victims’ tab.

When PCC websites give links to how to activate the Community Trigger in each local area, they need to be sure the links are working since this same Derbyshire page contains faulty links.

Some good examples of how to set out a page on the Community Trigger can be found here:

Lincolnshire – https://lincolnshire-pcc.gov.uk/victim-services-and-information/community-trigger/ (However, arguably it would be more helpful to give a link to the appropriate page on each local authority website rather than to their home page.)

Warwickshire – https://www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/helpingyou/community-trigger/ (However, once you click through to the Safer in Warwickshire site, there are again faulty links)

Merseyside – https://www.merseysidepcc.info/home/down-to-business/community-trigger.aspx This has links that work and in some cases give a named contact for victims.

West Yorkshire – http://www.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/how-we-work/our-outcomes/tackle-crime-and-anti-social-behaviour/community-trigger.aspx  This provides a succinct summary of the Community Trigger with working links.

Campaign

ASB Help believes all victims of persistent anti-social behaviour should know that the Community Trigger exists and may be appropriate for them to use.

ASB Help believes PCCs are in a good position to help promote the Community Trigger and it meets their own priority of protecting vulnerable people.

At a minimum, ASB Help believes PCCs should have a clear page on their website to explain what the Community Trigger is and how it can be activated in their local area.

ASB Help also expects PCCs to take an interest where a victim is experiencing problems with the Community Trigger process and be willing to take an active role in ensuring the Community Trigger is functioning properly under their watch.

ASB Help will campaign for PCCs to promote the Community Trigger and will continue to refer to local PCC offices when approached by individual victims suffering from anti-social behaviour who have turned to the Community Trigger and yet the ASB continues.

Neighbour Dispute Confusion

I sense there is a rather sketchy distinction going on across the country between anti-social behaviour and a neighbour dispute.  At best this is causing confusion.  At worst it is leaving innocent, vulnerable victims ignored and without proper support and help.

Nothing was done because it was labelled a neighbour dispute.

Is this a familiar cry?  As I speak to people who have tried to activate the Community Trigger, and to those who have tried for years to get results, this seems to be a familiar theme.  Once labelled a neighbour dispute, police officers in particular can push a problem into an entirely different category.  A category which even allows them to say ‘the Community Trigger is not appropriate for this case”.

I have had this said to me recently by police officers.  I have also spoken to a family who battled for years to get something done about the harassment and intimidation they experienced which had been labelled as a neighbour dispute.  This is also what left Bijan Ebrahimi at the mercy of his killer – anti-social behaviour labelled as a neighbour dispute.

How can this mis-categorisation occur?

I would suggest it is relatively easy for this mis-categorisation as a neighbour dispute to occur, especially with perpetrators who are well aware of their rights with regard to anti-social behaviour and neighbour disputes.

Person A complains of their neighbour, B’s, behaviour.  The police go round to speak to B who invents things about person A and tells the police what they too have done.  The police breathe a sigh and assume ‘this is yet another neighbour dispute’, go back to the station and label it as such.  Look how easy it is!

The major problem is, no-one has checked whether person B is telling the truth or not.  The next time person A calls to complain – and it is very likely that the behaviour has intensified because person B knows that person A has complained about them – the police look at their records, see it is a neighbour dispute, and crucially we believe, their behaviour changes as a result. Instead of concern for person A’s safety, there is frustration at the call about just an argument between two neighbours, something taking up precious police time and not an issue for them to deal with.

Person A often has no idea of the counter-allegations made by person B.  They are left to wonder why the police seem so unresponsive and why they are not getting any proper support.  Imagine their fear, their sense of vulnerability, and the feeling of having nowhere to turn.

How can a victim be better protected?

Awareness, awareness, awareness.

We believe the police need to be aware of this huge risk of failing to recognise personal, targeted ASB, and instead mistakenly labelling it as a neighbour dispute.

We want to ensure victims are well informed that this can happen and be prepared to check with officers how their case has been categorised, and do all they can to ensure it is not a neighbour dispute if they are innocent.  We are not naive – there are also many neighbour disputes which are just that – two sides both making life difficult for the other, and taking up valuable police time in the process.

Yet, we fear that there are too many victims of serious anti-social behaviour that are not being heard and not receiving swift support and protection.  Victims who do not know about the Community Trigger which would enable them to get a multi-agency review of their case after they have reported 3 separate incidents (in the past six months) and do not feel there has been a satisfactory response.  Some who may know about the Community Trigger but are told they are not eligible to activate it even!

Some areas have emotional support for victims of targeted anti-social behaviour.  It is extremely concerning that some victims may not be given proper access to local support all because their case has been mis-categorised as a neighbour dispute.

We do not want to see more tragic cases like those of Fiona Pilkington and Bijan Ebrahimi, yet I fear we will if we do not pay more attention to issues like these.  It is our suspicion that some agencies label ASB as a neighbour dispute to avoid having to undertake proper investigation.

However, we believe that if some of these situations were properly investigated at the outset, and nipped in the bud with early warnings it could take a lot less police time in the long run.  If a clear message was sent out that harassment and intimidation is not acceptable, some time spent at the beginning of the case could prevent it rolling on for years with all the phone calls to the police along the way.

Hypothetical of course, yet something worth dwelling on, especially since it has been proved that early intervention works.

This week marks the third anniversary of the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, legislation designed to put victims first and ensure swift action was taken to stop ASB.  If the negative feedback from the Community Trigger is anything to go by, the legislation is falling far short of its goal.

Fundamental Flaw

We believe that there is a fundamental flaw underlying victim empowerment when individuals are dealing with such big organisations like Councils and social landlords.  The relationship is so unbalanced that it is easy to see how a victim could be ignored and feel powerless.

The Victim’s Voice

From our perspective, as a charity seeking to empower victims of anti-social behaviour, it is both sobering and deeply concerning to learn of how residents of Grenfell Tower sought to alert their Tenant Management Organisation to the fire risk of their tower block, but to no avail  This was not just one resident, one sole voice trying to ensure safety for their own home.  This was a group of residents, coming together to raise the alert.

Our website encourages victims of anti-social behaviour to not suffer in silence but to report the behaviour to the relevant authorities.  We suggest that if a number of people are affected, that they consider putting a petition together to make their voices louder.  We approach this with a positive attitude and optimism as to results.  A tragedy like that of Grenfell Tower fire makes it very difficult to retain that optimism.  It hints at a fundamental flaw in the rights of each individual in the UK.

The Most Vulnerable

Many have spoken of the fact that residents of Grenfell Tower were some of the poorer people in our society.  Some of the most vulnerable.  With a website dedicated to Fiona Pilkington, a small voice speaking up about harassment towards her and her daughter, it is easy to see how she was ignored and felt powerless to do anything about it, seeing the only alternative as taking her own life and that of her daughter.

So where does that leave the Community Trigger, and the Community Remedy, given that they have been designed to put victims first.  In the light of what we see at Grenfell, is the Community Trigger really providing empowerment for victims of persistent ASB or is it just lip-service to make it seem like victims are being put first.

The Localism Act 2011 gave local authorities a lot more power and authority over their own areas whilst the Audit Commission was disbanded and with it any central way of monitoring how local authorities are complying with the law and providing value for money.  Transparency International has highlighted the risk of corruption in their report: “Corruption in UK Local Government: The Mounting Risks”.

We have seen the lack of central monitoring of local government practice with the Community Trigger legislation – the Home Office no longer has any legal right to police what is happening at the local level.  No one seems to.  The statutory guidance to accompany the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is currently being revised, but however good it is, if no one is ensuring local Councils put it into practice, it is not going to be at all effective at improving the way the legislation is implemented.  This is surely a fundamental flaw in the whole process.

A Council may choose to follow the law and ensure there are transparent processes to protect victims  However, if a Council chose not to pay much attention to a victim, create new reasons why they couldn’t undertake a Community Trigger case review or just walk through the process without properly listening to the victim or investing much money, care or consideration to the case, what recourse does the victim really have?

The Elephant in the Room

Mental Health and Anti-Social Behaviour

This week is Mental Health Awareness week.  As we hear from victims and speak to agencies, it is clear that mental health and anti-social behaviour are closely interlinked.

It is a difficult topic and we would suggest that often in cases of ASB it is the elephant in the room – that is, the obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss or challenge.

Doubtful?  Listen to the account of this victim who completed our online survey:

“I have been accused of being put here by the Housing Association and Council to spy on my neighbour, then he raved for 4 hours about cults making sacrifices and murdering people, that his car had been tampered with by residents, that myself and other residents were all acting together in a cult, watching him with binoculars and using radios to communicate with each other.  He says the nurses from nearby home are involved too.  He told me that men dressed all in back go into his house when he’s not there.  Says tenancy officer had been accessing his medical records and that he goes into his house when it’s empty.  Accused me of putting blue crystals in his water and tampering with his supply.”

The upshot of all this, which has caused real distress to the victim, is that the Housing Association has closed his complaint because the person is not violating their tenancy agreement.

The Challenges when Mental Health is involved

There are unique challenges when there is mental health involved.  First of all, in a situation like that described above, both perpetrator and victim are victims – one of the anti-social behaviour, the other of what would seem to be mental health leading to delusions.  There are also people who report anti-social behaviour who themselves are suffering mental health.  This may affect their perception of what is really anti-social, and therefore seem unreasonable in their complaint.

Further complications include:

  1. some agencies can seem reluctant to get involved in reported ASB or a neighbour dispute when there is mental health involved
  2. some victims are left to suffer in silence because the agency they report the ASB to is unsure what to do about the perpetrator because of his or her mental health and the vulnerability involved
  3. because of confidentiality, often the victim cannot even be told that the perpetrator is suffering mental health – it is never mentioned, only suspected

The Community Trigger

We have championed the Community Trigger since its introduction in October 2014.  Interestingly, we have been told by agencies that they sometimes recommend the Community Trigger to a victim they are working to help, because “it is the only way to get Mental Health round the table”.

This is extremely concerning.  An agency like the Council needs to get the victim to activate a formal process like the Community Trigger to get the Mental Health department of the same Council to attend a meeting and contribute their solution to the situation.

We are sure there is a high correlation between mental health and anti-social behaviour, especially given how subjective the definition of anti-social behaviour is, and how dependent on perception it is.  Dealing effectively with anti-social behaviour involves good partnership working.  It also involves individuals and communities being reasonable and tolerant but seeing action taken when behaviour is unacceptable.

If mental health is hidden and unspoken, proper partnership and communication is impossible and victims will continue to be fobbed off and unsupported, and those suffering the debilitating effects of mental health will not receive the support they so desperately need.  So let’s get the elephant out of the room and be more mental health aware.

Age UK radio interview

During the month of April, a radio interview with Age UK was aired a number of times on ‘The Wireless’, to an audience of older people.  We were delighted to be a guest on the ‘We’ve Got Mail‘ programme, alongside Age UK’s own expert on anti-social behaviour, Lottie Beauchamp.

We answered questions from 5 different victims of anti-social behaviour, as follows:

1.   My Mum got new neighbours a few years back. They are nice enough and helped her with her shopping after she had a fall. However, they’ve done nothing to their garden since they moved in and it looks a mess now. They’ve got these tall trees and hedges that are hanging over Mum’s fence. There’s barely any natural light in her living room, which is where she spends most of her days, and I’m worried about what the roots are doing to her foundations. Surely this isn’t legal!

See our Advice about boundary issues here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/neighbour-disputes/

2.    I live on a council estate and the family upstairs are the neighbours from hell. They are constantly making noise when they are at home and the dad works nights, which disturbs my sleep. I can hear everything they do up there – I don’t understand why they’re so loud! I have lots of health problems and the lack of sleep and stress is making it worse. Please help, I’m at the end of my tether!

See our Advice about noise issues here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/noisy-neighbours-noise/

3.    I own my house but the property next door is privately rented. Previous tenants have been good and kept themselves to themselves, but the current lot are awful. There seems to be at least ten people living in one small house and there are always visitors coming and going. The front garden is full of rubbish and I’ve seen rats crawling about. The tenants are always having parties with music blaring at all hours. One of them keeps a large dog which I’m sure is dangerous. I’ve complained to the police and the council countless times over the past few months. Sometimes someone turns up to tell them to turn the music down, but beyond that nothing seems to be being done. What should I do next? How should I get them to take this issue seriously?

See our Advice about what to do when no-one seems to be listening here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/community-trigger/

4.   My wife and I live in a housing association flat. We’ve had problems with one of our neighbours for years now – both the housing association and the police have been involved. Things have taken a turn for the worse recently and we don’t feel safe in our home anymore. The housing association have said they will move us, but we haven’t heard anything from them in a while – we don’t understand what is going on. Is there any other way we can move?

Our answer focused on security of tenure – see Age UK’s Factsheet 9 on anti-social behaviour in housing and Factsheet 68 on security of tenure for comprehensive information on this. 

5.   I’ve just moved house to be closer to my daughter. The house is lovely, but I’m having problems with the pub on the corner. Of course I saw it when I went to view the house, but I didn’t realise how late it would stay open. The noise is deafening and there have even been fights outside my front door! Is there anything I can do about this?

See our Advice about issues with pubs and clubs here: http://asbhelp.co.uk/premises-licences/

Older People and ASB

Anti-social behaviour can affect anyone in any place.  However, older people can suffer its effects to a much greater extent, especially because many older people spend a lot more time in their own home.  Therefore anti-social behaviour from neighbours will affect them for more hours of the day than someone who is heading out to work and school each day.

Older people can feel more vulnerable and therefore can be more easily frightened.  Our tips on being frightened address some simple ways to help with this.

Another area of anti-social behaviour that may particularly affect older people is disputes over gardens and garden boundaries, especially where spending time in their garden is a hobby and a source of pride.  Living next to untidy gardens or issues around overhanging branches could cause significant distress.  We have information on neighbour disputes and environmental offences which cover these issues.

Do not suffer in silence. There is power in numbers and there may be other neighbours on your street who can support your case.  Emphasise when you report anti-social behaviour to agencies such as the Council, Housing Association or Police how the anti-social behaviour is affecting your health.  Older people whose health is being affected should be treated as a higher risk, and therefore higher priority, for local agencies.

Let’s Talk

The kids continue to run until way after 11 at night.  Since they moved in my daughter struggles to fall asleep and wakes up scared when the loud “bangs” sound so late.”  ‘Sam’

Anti-social behaviour takes so many different forms.  We all have different levels of tolerance to it – since it is defined as causing harassment, alarm or distress, we will all define different behaviour as anti-social.

This case study shows a situation where a 2 year old girl is experiencing alarm and distress which in turn is distressing to her parents.  However, it strikes us that it is also a clear situation where mediation needs to be the way forward to solve the problem.  Finding a way to talk through the issues is key.

The neighbour in the flat above has two children who run up and down the house “all day long”.  Sam feels he is already making compromises by sacrificing his daughter’s nap, knowing he can’t expect them to be quiet in the middle of the day, but after 9pm the noise becomes a problem.

He says he has spoken to them repeatedly as well as leaving a polite note.  His daughter “struggles to fall asleep and wakes up scared when the loud ‘bangs’ sound so late“.

Meanwhile, the neighbours accuse Sam of being intolerant, saying: “they complain too much and should move to a country house if they need their daughter to sleep“.

Let’s Talk

We recently looked at the value of considering mediation in situations of anti-social behaviour.   Mediation brings the two parties that are in conflict together with an independent person present to hear both sides of the story.

Everyone will have a different take on the situation when reading this story.  Many will empathise with Sam’s struggle to get his daughter to sleep and it is certainly concerning that she is waking alarmed with the noise.  Others will feel it is too intolerant and that noise is a natural result of living in a ground floor flat.

The fact of the matter is that both Sam and his neighbours live there, and want to enjoy their homes.  In situations like these the opportunity to talk together, with someone independent to help ensure both parties can fully explain their perspective, holds huge value.  Tension and frustration is damaging to our health but in a situation involving noise like this, that is unlikely to be classified as a statutory nuisance, there is very little available to agencies to resolve the situation.  This is a place for mediation to try and figure out how to live well together for the benefit of everyone.

Can you Read and Write?

 

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of leading a workshop at the Resolve ASB annual conference on “Putting Victims First”.  I co-led the workshop with an ASB practitioner from Greater Manchester who is passionate about putting victims first and led the section on how we do that practically. Her casual mention of the fact she asks people “can you read or write?” before she leaves them with a diary really struck me.

Diaries are a classic way to start gathering evidence in cases of anti-social behaviour.  Yet, I wonder how many practitioners do ask that question: “Can you read and write?”  It might seem an unnecessary question but it really got me thinking.  Whilst the UK boosts 99% literacy, it is widely recognised that more than 1% of the population are functionally illiterate and struggle with reading information from unfamiliar sources or on unfamiliar topics.

There are also people whose second language is English who may particularly struggle to write in English.  What struck me with Janice’s comment was how aware she was of all the hurdles that could be placed in front of a victim of anti-social behaviour.  She showed through and through a victims-first approach.

Hurdles to reporting ASB

Anti-social behaviour is under-reported, and sometimes when it is reported, action is not taken nor is the victim taken seriously.  How many of the most vulnerable in our society are in those two categories – either they find the whole experience of trying to report an incident of anti-social behaviour too overwhelming, or once they pluck up the courage, they may struggle to clearly articulate the problem and are fobbed off or ignored.  Or sent a letter with further information which they find incomprehensible due to unfamiliar terms and an overload of jargon …

Speaking at a Surrey ASB Practitioners Forum last month, I urged delegates to keep their communication clear, remove jargon, and take time to explain unfamiliar processes such as the court system.  It can be easy to forget that victims have no clue about all this.

At that forum I was challenged by someone about how accessible we as a charity really are.  She commented that only a small proportion of victims of ASB would have access to the Internet to find our website, and then only a small proportion of them would be able to read through the content we have there.  I feel that is harsh and unfair.  92% of the UK population has access to the Internet and we have sought to make our information as clear as possible for victims.  Yes, they need to be able to read, though they may have advocates who can access the information and share it with them.  Unfortunately anti-social behaviour is such a complex topic that it cannot be simplified too much – we are keen not to mislead victims that it is easy to define and easy to resolve.  Usually it is not.

Yet this is a good question to keep holding out there: “Can you read and write?” We are a small charity and are aware that we cannot yet reach the most vulnerable in our society who do not have access to the Internet and cannot read English.  Yet it is worth remembering, anti-social behaviour can hit anyone, anywhere – it is not just areas of deprivation – and therefore we believe there are still many people who can benefit from our resource.  For those who are isolated, our hope is that someone somewhere will listen and connect them to the help and advice they need.  That when they pick up the phone to report the problem, the official at the other end listens carefully, chooses to put the victim first and takes prompt action to help them.

Tips for Putting Victims First

Janice’s tips for how to keep victims in the centre were:

  1. Prioritise going to talk to the victim after they call in to report the ASB (in the next couple of days, not a week next Thursday!  Note: visit, not write)
  2. Empathise and really listen to what they are sharing
  3. Do not downplay what they say but ensure they feel that you care about the effect the behaviour is having on them (such as sleep deprivation, effect on work/school performance, health impact, fear, anxiety, isolation, etc.)
  4. Clearly explain what you plan to do, what you can do and what you can’t do to help them
  5. Check in with them on an ongoing basis to see how they are coping and whether the behaviour has improved if a warning has been given

Those Summer Nights

Summer brings an increase in anti-social behaviour. With warmer weather and longer days there are more people out and about, gathering together on street corners and parks, or in their homes. This is all wonderful. In the last week alone I have attended an evening BBQ, hosted a dinner party including pre-dinner drinks out in the garden, and been part of a big family group enjoying a picnic and games in the local park. I love the chance to be out and about and enjoy that atmosphere of friendship and fun together. The problem comes when either a gathering gets out of hand, or when the initial motivation was one of causing nuisance in the first place. Agencies report a clear increase in alcohol-related incidents in the summer. Not only can this create noise as well as littering, it can intimidate other people and become a nuisance that would deter others from using community spaces. We need to be considerate of others when we gather with our friends.

Being Considerate of Others

Keep in mind:

bullet Not everyone is on holiday – your neighbours may be getting up for work the next morning and need their sleep.

bullet Remember that if you have opened your windows in the warm weather, any household noise will be amplified

bullet In the warm weather, bad smells are exacerbated so remember to dispose of waste properly including cleaning up after your dog! Perhaps it’s time to attack that untidy garden
too.

bullet We all spend more time out in the garden in the summer – sometimes disputes arise between neighbours with regard to boundary hedges and fences – try and use the opportunity of being out in your garden more to approach your neighbor and build up a relationship, not to pick a fight.

bullet Take a deep breath when the noise from children and teenagers gets too loud. We were all children once and it is good to see them outside enjoying some fresh air, rather than stuck in front of computer games all day long. Let’s get the best out of these current warm days.

Summer is often all too short – let’s enjoy it responsibly and try and be reasonable. If you are struggling (and tempers can flare much quicker in the hot weather) see our tips on coping with frustration and anger.

Ensuring Great Summer Holidays

Children will get bored if they are just at home all summer. Many areas have free activities going on for children of all ages – why not ask at your local library and see what’s on offer? If you live in a flat or house with poor insulation, be considerate of your neighbours if your children are inside all summer. It might be worth getting out and meeting your neighbours and taking the opportunity to apologise in advance for the nuisance your children could cause with their noise (or balls going over the fence, etc). This can be powerful – instead of allowing resentment to grow in your neighbour’s mind, you build a relationship instead, or improve a strained one.

Community Action

If there is an issue going on in your street or more widely in your community, the summer can be a good time to get out and find out what other residents think. It could lead to positive steps to make a difference in your area – perhaps form a Neighbourhood Watch or Residents’ Association. There is power in numbers and you may be eligible to activate the Community Trigger if nothing is happening in your local area. You may also decide it is worth gathering signatures for a petition to push for action.

Suffering Anti-Social Behaviour?

If you are suffering as a result of anti-social behavior, especially one that is alcohol-related, then report it to the relevant agency. Most are at the ready in the summer, with different operations to focus on tackling anti-social behaviour so do not be afraid to contact them for help.

Petition to Parliament

Do we sometimes underestimate the power of a local petition?

We have a page dedicated to tips for putting together a petition – http://asbhelp.co.uk/petition/ – because we believe they can be effective. It is a tangible way to make your individual voice louder and insist action is taken.

Of course if 5 of you have complained about an incident of anti-social behaviour and no-one is doing anything about it, you can activate the Community Trigger. In fact you should – insist on a case review and get results.

However, it would seem this Community Trigger is not always matching up to expectations (http://asbhelp.co.uk/trigger-thoughts/) so don’t forget to try a good old-fashioned petition.

This week I read that such a petition was being brought before Parliament by a supportive local MP:

Photo of Keith VazKeith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee 6:39 pm, 25th November 2015

I am presenting a petition signed by 256 local residents. The petition was collected by volunteers, including Pradip Dullabh, Bindu Dullabh and Sanjeev Sharma from the local area, together with local councillors Riata Patel, Ross Willmott and Piara Clair and other local residents.

The petition states:

The petition of residents of Leicester, East:

Declares that urgent steps need to be taken to stop the antisocial behaviour, attacks and robberies by groups of young people on users and nearby residents of Rushey Fields Park in Leicester, and further that it is the only green space in the area and this kind of behaviour is discouraging people who are concerned for their safety and welfare from using the park.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges Leicester City Council to put CCTV security measures in place and increase police patrols to discourage antisocial behaviour, robberies and attacks on park users and nearby residents.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

So, do not lose hope. Collect your petition and believe that even if your local agency dares to ignore it, you can take it higher. I hope that Leicester City Council will indeed listen to the House of Commons and act. To not do so would be at great detriment to the public voice.