The legal definition of anti-social behaviour according to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is: –
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a broad term which is often banded around to describe a wide variety of behaviours. When looking on police, local authority or housing providers website you will often see a list of the types of behaviours that are deemed as ASB, these can include (but not limited to) threatening behaviour, loud music, car cruising, the selling or using of drugs, violence and criminal damage. Some agencies may also categorise it into 3 subheadings; personal (targeted), nuisance (community) and environmental. However, what constitutes ASB is extremely subjective and whilst examples of behaviour can be provided, what you may consider to be anti-social behaviour another person may not.
The key words in the legislation are harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance and annoyance.
It is important that on reporting anti-social behaviour to your local authority, police or housing provider that you detail the impact that it is having on your health and wellbeing being. For example, have you have had to change your routine, your living arrangements (move bedrooms, furniture etc), has it effected your sleeping patterns and employment as well as explaining how the behaviour has made you feel, are you more tearful, are you scared. By explaining all of this you will assist the officer dealing with your case to consider the harm caused and risk posed.
ASB is not low level and should not be treated as such, incidents can quickly escalate which sometimes can have fatal consequences. Cases such as Fiona Pilkington and David Askew highlight the importance of recognising the harm caused, sharing information between agencies and how vital it is for agencies to work in partnership to tackle anti-social behaviour. Incidents should not be treated in isolation and the cumulative impact of persistent ASB needs to be recognised and taken into consideration when supporting ASB victims.
ASB can be a precursor to serious crime and by that we mean criminals do not just start committing crime overnight, they were more than likely known by agencies growing up for their promiscuous behaviour. ASB can also be the symptom of serious and organised crime, in that you might complain about noise nuisance from a neighbouring property or frequent visitors to an address, but this could in fact be related to a drugs network including county lines activity. It is therefore important that you ASB as the ASB legislation can be used for a variety of issues including Organised Crime Groups (OCGs), Domestic abuse, Cuckooing, County Lines to name but a few.
Use our ACT NOW guide to establish the most appropriate agency to report an incident to.
It is therefore important for practitioners to take a harm centred approach to anti-social behaviour and concentrate on the effect the behaviour is having on a victim as opposed to the types of behaviour being complained about. In completing risk assessments and focussing upon the harm caused, practitioners can ensure that they can put measures in place at the first opportunity and reduce the impact of the behaviour. Where ASB is not addressed in a timely manner it can have a devastating impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.