Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is on the rise and as we head into the winter months the situation is set to get worse. Between March and May this year the police received 220,000 reports of ASB. That is about double from the same period last year.
We are experiencing a community safety crisis wrapped around a health pandemic.
Resolve’s membership collectively owns and manages more than three million homes across the UK – with 25% of our members being local authorities. Since April, the reports from our members have been consistent.
Councils and landlords are being inundated with cases of ASB. What is also clear is that this rise is not related to minor breaches of complicated lockdown rules as we may have expected. Instead, these are complex and serious cases linked to families and communities being thrust together in unprecedented circumstances.
ASB is never low-level crime. It has a devastating and lasting impact on families and communities.
Teams have responded heroically at times – grappling with an increased workload and having to adapt to deliver services in a virtual world. But in reality, many don’t have the resources to keep up with rising demand and complicated scenarios.
So how big is our ASB problem?
Resolve carried out research into public perceptions of ASB, with 44% of people saying anti-social behaviour was a problem where they live. That figure rises as high as 51% for Londoners.
More than a third of people say ASB has increased where they live in the last three years and 30% of people say it has got worse since lockdown.
Around one in 10 people say they experience ASB in their local area at least once a month. It is clear ASB is a significant problem for local people, but what impact does it have on the wider community?
A quarter of people say ASB has made them feel unsafe in their local area – while 18% of all respondents said it has caused them to consider moving home. An alarming statistic for any local politician. Forty three per cent of victims of ASB say it has impacted on their mental health.
The survey showed a clear desire for more action on ASB with 55% of people saying more should be done to tackle ASB. For those who have been a victim of ASB, 82% say more needs to be done.
Despite all of this, most anti-social behaviour (54%) is not reported to anyone.
There will of course be a variety of reasons for this, but it is worth noting that 16% of people who were victims of or who witnessed ASB reported it to their council or social services. Of these more than half (51%) were unhappy with how the issue was handled.
While local authorities across the land are addressing unparalleled and perhaps impossible challenges in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, tackling the rise in ASB will be an important factor in maintaining community cohesion and ensuing people feel safe where they live during the local lockdowns that are set to punctuate the coming months.
Reducing ASB will also be a vital cog in plans for longer term change in communities.
ASB can be a precursor to more serious crimes, and perpetrators often have challenges linked to mental health, drugs and alcohol. It is a symptom of a much bigger problem and cannot be seen in isolation.
There are powers available to local authorities to deal with ASB. However, the latest report from the Civil Justice Council highlights that they are not being used to their potential.
In spring 2021 Resolve will be hosting the first ever ASB Awareness Week to highlight the work being done by local authorities and housing providers to stamp out ASB.
Councils and landlords can impose positive requirements which would help to address the root causes of a person’s misconduct.
The impact of ASB on people and their neighbourhoods cannot be understated. The tools to address this head on are available at our fingertips.
Rebecca Bryant is chief executive of Resolve