Antisocial behaviour: The seemingly minor issues that can have devastating effects on communities
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AS they deal with thousands of reports of antisocial behaviour each year, police have highlighted the many ways they work to stop minor issues from escalating.
From verbal abuse and harassment, to nuisance drinking and drug dealing, antisocial behaviour (ASB) covers a wide range of offences that go beyond what many people associate with the term.
As part of Dyfed-Powys Police’s INTACT campaign, the force is this month focussing efforts on raising awareness of what constitutes ASB, how to report it, and how police deal with reports of this kind.
Sergeant Rhian Curtis, of the Safer Communities Hub, said: “Antisocial behaviour is an umbrella term for a range of incidents or crimes, all of which can have a hugely negative impact on individuals and wider communities.
“There are many offences covered by antisocial behaviour, however, if left unreported or unresolved, it can escalate into more serious crimes which can have devastating effects.
“We hope that through this campaign we can raise awareness of what ASB means, when and how it should be reported, and what we’re doing as a force to deal with it.”
Since 2018, Dyfed-Powys Police has received an average of 9,500 reports of ASB each year. The control room saw a large increase in calls during 2020, however breaches of Covid restrictions were also recorded under this crime category.
Care is taken by officers and staff to ensure a problem-solving approach is followed to diagnose root causes of this behaviour and find solutions tailored to each situation.
In dealing with teenagers causing problems in Newport, Pembrokeshire, a grassroots approach was taken to ensure intervention at the first opportunity. A PCSO identified and visited each individual involved, advising their parents what had been happening. Since these visits, no further reports have been made.
In Carmarthenshire, enquiries into complaints of ASB involving people visiting a particular property to drink alcohol and take drugs led officers to realise the occupant of the house was a victim rather than an offender. Measures have been taken to safeguard the woman, and to prevent these people from attending her home in future.
Sgt Curtis said: “We look at each case individually, working with partner agencies to work out what the best approach would be to tackle the issue. In some cases the solution is fairly simple, while in others officers try various ways to resolve the problem.
“Our main aims are to put the victim first, and to ensure we minimise the risk of issues escalating.”
The commitment shown to giving ASB victims a voice has earned Dyfed-Powys Police the ASB Help Pledge – with the force being the first in Wales to receive the award.
Officers dealing with ASB are able to issue warning letters as a first official notice to offenders – with 224 first stage, and 36 second stage warnings handed out to young people between February 2019 and 2021.
Another early intervention tactic is to issue an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, which is designed to engage someone involved in ASB to acknowledge the impact they are having on other people, with the aim of stopping it. Fifty-three such contracts have been issued over the past two years, with 16 breaches recorded.
Officers are also able to Community Protection Warnings and Notices, which can impose a number of requirements on an individual, apply for closure orders on properties causing a nuisance to the community, or Criminal Behaviour Orders for individuals who have been convicted of a crime.
For information on which matters can be reported to police and which need to be directed to your local authority, visit bit.ly/DPP101Online
ASB covers a range of activity that can blight people's quality of life and escalate into more serious crimes.
Examples of ASB include:
Rowdy and nuisance behaviour
Intimidating gatherings in public places
Vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-tipping and abandoned vehicles
Noise, including loud music or frequent visitors at unsocial hours
Did you know it’s not just police who deal with ASB? Some behaviour needs to be reported to your local council.