How we deal with anti social behaviour
Tackling anti-social behaviour involves a range of agencies working together.
There are measures to work with both the victims and the people who are behaving anti-socially:
Support for victims
Victim Support provides a free, confidential support service to victims and witnesses of anti-social behaviour. Call 0300 303 1947 or download the information leaflet in the useful documents section. The Derbyshire Constabulary website contains useful information for those who have been either a victim or witness to a crime or anti-social behaviour.
A variety of projects and initiatives are in place to prevent anti-social behaviour, such as sports, arts, music, drop-ins and community clean ups, intergenerational work and mentoring schemes. Neighbourhood Watch and police Safer Neighbourhood Teams also help prevent anti-social behaviour at a community level.
Improving people’s understanding of anti-social behaviour, and educating young people about the effects it has, is critical to challenging and changing behaviour. As part of the national curriculum of Citizenship and Personal Health and Social Education (PHSE), schools deliver lessons to raise awareness about acceptable behaviour and the consequences of anti-social and criminal behaviour. Parenting classes are available to help improve relationships and communication between parents and teenagers. All areas have leaflets on anti-social behaviour and a pledge they make about how they will deal with the problem locally.
To deal with anti-social behaviour issues, there needs to be a staged approach which is appropriate and proportionate. Each case is different, so enforcement methods can vary. For more information on the types of enforcement used when dealing with anti-social behaviour, see the enforcement types listed below.
There are different levels of warnings that can be given to people who act in an anti-social manner to make them realise the impact and the consequences of their behaviour. Warnings range from early intervention warnings (written or verbal) that can be given by any agency and have no direct legal consequences, up to formal warnings by the police. For adults these are cautions and for young people, these are youth cautions and youth conditional cautions. Formal warnings are recorded and monitored and can lead to a criminal prosecution for persistent offenders.
Warnings are very effective in stopping people behaving anti-socially at an early stage; reserving law enforcement powers to be used against the minority who choose to ignore the warning.
Low level crimes and anti-social behaviour can be resolved informally through Community Remedy. Providing both parties agree, the offender can 'make good' the harm caused by, for example, apologising to the victim, cleaning up or paying for the damage.
Penalty Notices are a speedy and effective option for dealing with low level anti-social and nuisance behaviour. They can be issued by the police and the local authority for a wide range of offences including litter, graffiti, fly-posting, truancy, drunk and disorderly, noise nuisance, purchase of alcohol for a person under 18 etc. The amount of a Penalty Notice varies dependant on the offence and the severity of the behaviour.
Once the Dispersal Power has been approved, police have the power to disperse people, who are behaving anti-socially in a public place, and direct them to leave the area for up to 48 hours (unless they live there). Young people under 16 can be taken home or to another place of safety. A Police Officer can also ask someone to surrender any items likely to cause anti-social behaviour, for example, alcohol, spray paint.
Seizure of vehicles
Where motor vehicles are being used unlawfully, or in a manner which causes alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public, the police have the power to seize a vehicle to stop its anti-social use. A warning notice is usually issued on the first occasion.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) are written voluntary agreements between a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and one or more agencies whose role is to prevent such behaviour such as police, local council, housing association, school. They can be used for young people or adults. The contract gives a list of anti-social acts, which the person agrees not to continue, and also positive statements that the person agrees to do. An ABC usually last for six months.
Parental Control Agreement
A Parental Control Agreement is effectively an Acceptable Behaviour Contract for children under the age of 10 years. The aim is to encourage the parents to acknowledge, and take responsibility for, their child's unacceptable behaviour. It is signed by the parents, as opposed to an ABC where both the parent and young person sign the contract.
A Parenting contract is a written voluntary agreement between a parent and either school, local education authority or the Youth Offending Service. The contract states what the parent agrees to do in order to improve the behaviour of their child, or ensure they attend school. There may be a requirement for the parent to attend parenting classes.
Parenting orders can be made by the courts where a young person has been involved in anti-social behaviour, criminal activity or where their behaviour or attendance record in school is unacceptable. In addition to specific conditions, the parent will be required to attend parenting classes.
Community Protection Notice
If a Warning Letter does not stop someone who is committing anti-social behaviour that spoils the community's quality of life (for example graffiti, rubbish, noise), then a Community Protection Notice can be issued. The notice explains what must be done to stop the anti-social behaviour and ensure it does not happen again. Non-compliance is a criminal offence and could result in a fine or other court action.
Injunctions are civil orders obtained from the county court. An injunction prohibits the person concerned from engaging in the behaviour detailed in the injunction. Injunctions can be used to prevent a range of anti-social behaviour relating to housing and the wider neighbourhood. For example, using a property for drug dealing, playing loud music at night, barking dogs, verbal abuse and vandalism.
Some injunctions can exclude the person from specified places or areas. The court may grant an injunction for a specified period as it sees fit, or may decide that the injunction will apply until the injunction is varied or discharged. This can mean that an injunction can be in force for the lifetime of the person who it is obtained against.
Breach of the conditions of an injunction can result in up to two years' imprisonment and/or a fine for contempt of court.
Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO)
In serious cases of anti-social behaviour, or when an Acceptable Behaviour Contract has been unsuccessful in changing a person's behaviour, a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) may be the next course of action. A CBO is a civil court order that imposes strict conditions stating what the person cannot do and possibly where they cannot go. It can also impose positive requirements to address the underlying causes of the anti-social behaviour. It lasts for a minimum of 2 years. The breach of a CBO is where the individual does not comply with the terms of the order. This is a criminal offence and could result in a custodial sentence of up to five years imprisonment.
Public spaces protection order
Local councils can issue a public spaces protection order for up to three years to stop anti-social behaviour in public spaces, by restricting certain activities such as drinking alcohol, keeping a dog on a lead. The council and police enforce a public spaces protection order and breach is a criminal offence punishable by a fine.
Closure notices give the police or council the power to close premises, which are being used, or likely to be used, to commit nuisance or disorder, for up to 48 hours. An application is made to the court for a closure order for up to six months, during which time the premises will be sealed and it is a criminal offence to enter.