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Policy and Service Responses to Anti Social Behaviour: Ten years of policy and practice in the UK


Families, Communities and Justice Research Centre, ... drunk and disorderly. prostitution. shoplifting. throwing missiles. trespass. Subjective definition ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Policy and Service Responses to Anti Social Behaviour: Ten years of policy and practice in the UK

Policy and Service Responses to Anti Social
Behaviour Ten years of policy and practice in
the UK
  • Dr Nathan Hughes
  • Families, Communities and Justice Research
  • Institute of Applied Social Studies, University
    of Birmingham, UK
  • Email n.j.hughes_at_bham.ac.uk

  • How is anti-social behaviour (ASB) defined?
  • Why has ASB become a political concern?
  • How is ASB tackled?
  • What are the implications of this approach?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What are the current issues for practice?

How is ASB defined?
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defines ASB as
behaviour that caused or was likely to cause
harassment, alarm or distress to one or more
persons not of the same household as the
  • harassment
  • threats
  • verbal abuse
  • intimidation
  • graffiti / criminal damage
  • assault
  • noise
  • public disturbance
  • arson
  • racial abuse
  • drunk and disorderly
  • prostitution
  • shoplifting
  • throwing missiles
  • trespass

Subjective definition
it is important to recognise that virtually any
activity can be anti-social depending on a range
of background factors, such as the context in
which it occurs, the location, peoples tolerance
levels and expectations about the quality of life
in the area (Whitehead et al, 2003 4-5, cited
by Jacobsen et al, 2005).
Protecting the law abiding citizen
  • Our aim is a something for something society
    where we treat one another with respect and where
    we all share responsibility for taking a stand
    against what is unacceptable. But some people and
    some families undermine this. The anti-social
    behaviour of a few, damages the lives of many.
    (ASB White Paper 2003, Ministerial Foreword)
  • A key goal is to empower individuals and
    communities, enabling them not just to feel
    secure but to be more able to act together to
    make their neighbourhoods safer and better.
    (Respect Action Plan www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documen

A shared community understanding?
  • The conditions for respect depend ultimately
    on a shared commitment to a common set of values
    expressed through behaviour that is considerate
    of others (including) respect for others, their
    property and their privacy, civility, good
    manners and a recognition that everyone has
    responsibilities as well as rights. (Respect
    Action Plan)

Marginalised groups
  • Whose voice is heard and whose is not?
  • Potential for othering, e.g. young people
  • Anti-social behaviour has become a convenient
    peg on which to hang general prejudices about
    young people and their activities which make
    restrictive policies popular. (Bunney, 2005 67)

A law and order discourse
  • Focus on harm to victim and community
  • Perpetrator as a risk to others i.e. Youth as
  • Need to protect community from this behaviour
  • Focus on the act
  • Intended outcome is the prevention of the act
  • Law and order and enforcement discourse

Law and order enforcement
  • The community sets clear standards of behaviour.
    The police and local authorities must enforce
    these standards and take swift, effective action
    if they are breached (ASB White Paper 2003, p7).
  • a no-tolerance approach to anti-social
    behaviour, with new powers for the police, such
    as curfews, specialist prosecutors and
    anti-social behaviour response courts, and
    support for communities (Home Office, 2004, p10).

Examples of legal powers of enforcement
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs)
  • ASBOs linked to a criminal conviction (CRASBOs)
  • Parenting Orders
  • Dispersal Orders
  • Curfew Orders
  • Termination of tenancy agreements
  • Fixed Penalty Notices
  • Alcohol Free Zones
  • Noise Abatement Orders
  • Closure Orders (Crack houses)

  • Aged 10 years or older
  • Civil order but a criminal offence if breached
  • Conditions include curfews, not associating with
    named persons, not entering a certain area, not
    behaving in a certain manner
  • ASBOs cannot order an individual to take positive
  • Able to name and shame those with ASBOs

The limitations of enforcement
  • Do contracts change behaviour?
  • Reported negative effects of ASBO restrictions on
    young people
  • Limited impact on community
  • Individualised response overlooks the
    significance of broader structural issues

Developing Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour
A preventative discourse
  • Anti-social behaviour understood within a broader
    preventative framework
  • Recognition and understanding of broader
    influences on and causes of anti-social behaviour
  • Perpetrator as at risk or vulnerable
  • Encouraging positive behaviour
  • E.g. education, positive activities, family
    support, positive role models, voluntary
  • Diversion from justice system / agencies

Working with communities
  • Respect relies on a shared understanding and
    clear rules and is strengthened by people acting
    together to tackle problems and improve their
    lives. (Respect Action Plan)
  • Practices that increase the
  • Safety
  • Tolerance
  • Trust
  • Cohesion- of communities.
  • How can the dominant enforcement / casework model
    contribute to this?
  • Resilience
  • Capacity
  • Engagement
  • Empowerment

Some Issues for Practice
  • Dangers of seeing ASB as the (only) problem,
    rather than often a symptom of other problems
  • Tensions between long-term investment in
    community prevention and short-term problem
    solving to protect individuals
  • Resource implications of preventive approaches
  • How to build trust with residents in deprived
  • Variations in understanding/definition of ASB,
    including different understandings and values
    between partner agencies
  • What works well for who and why? How do we judge
    success? Can we monitor/evaluate long-term
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