Anti-social behaviour

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"The term anti-social behaviour covers a wide range of selfish and unacceptable activity that can blight the quality of community life on both an individual and community level. Terms such as ‘nuisance’, ‘disorder’ and ‘harassment’ are also used to describe some of this behaviour.   A legal definition of anti-social behaviour is found in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The Act describes anti-social behaviour as 'acting in an anti-social manner as a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator'."
Source: Home Office

Specific anti-social behaviour categories used in Herefordshire are:

  • Begging / vagrancy
  • Noise nuisance
  • Rowdy / nuisance behaviour - rowdy and inconsiderate
  • Street drinking
  • Substance misuse
  • Trespass
  • Animal problems
  • Malicious communications
  • Rowdy / nuisance - neighbours
  • Hoax calls to emergency services
  • Inappropriate sale / use / possession of fireworks
  • Rowdy / nuisance - environmental damage / littering
  • Vehicle related nuisance / inappropriate vehicle use
  • Abandoned vehicles (not stolen or causing obstruction)

One way of measuring the extent of anti-social behaviour is through perception surveys, where Herefordshire residents are given the opportunity to say if they feel anti-social behaviour is high in their local neighbourhood area.  Questions around perceptions of anti-social behaviour are asked in two household surveys across Herefordshire.  The West Mercia Joint Local Crime and Safety Survey is carried out by West Mercia Constabulary, and the Herefordshire quality of life survey is carried out by Herefordshire Council.

Similar questions are asked in both of these surveys, although the phrasing differs and levels of perceptions of anti-social behaviour are much higher when obtained from the Crime and Safety Survey compared to the Herefordshire quality of life survey.  It seems likely that the differences in results occur as a result of question phrasing and survey context.  Results from both surveys are useful, and Herefordshire has performance indicators relying on data from both.

Percentage of Herefordshire residents (16 and over) who think each of these is a problem in their local neighbourhood area

This indicator monitors perceptions of anti-social behaviour, using information provided by the West Mercia Joint Local Crime and Safety Survey.  This indicator forms part of the Local Public Service Agreement (LPSA2G 2004-05 to 2007-08) in relation to reducing anti-social behaviour and measuring local perception.

Chart 1.  Percentage of Herefordshire residents (16 and over) who think each of these is a problem in their local neighbourhood area
Chart 1. Percentage of Herefordshire residents (16 and over) who think each of these is a problem in their local neighbourhood area
Source: West Mercia Joint Local Crime and Safety Survey

With the exception of people being drunk or rowdy in a public place, levels of perceptions for specific anti-social behaviours have reduced since 2005 and the targets set for 2008 have been achieved.  However, in the 2008 survey there was a slight change in the options available for this question, with the 'don't know' answer option removed, which may have had some effect on the results. Without more research we cannot say how this might change responses to this question.

Percentage of Herefordshire residents (18 and over) who perceive their local area to have a high level of anti-social behaviour

This indicator was introduced in 2006 by Government as a way of measuring perceptions of anti-social behaviour in a consistent way across all local authorities.  Until 2007, this indicator was known as the "Respect Agenda" score.  It is now a National Indicator, NI 17.  In 2008 with the move to the Herefordshire quality of life survey, there was a change in the feel of the questionnaire, with more of a focus on the place rather than local authority services.  Another change in the survey was that ‘local area’ was now defined as the area within 15-20 minutes walk from residents’ homes; previously this was left for the respondent to define for themselves.  These changes have appeared to have an important but unquantifiable impact on results.

Residents were asked to say how much of a problem seven aspects of anti-social behaviour were in their local neighbourhood area.  Responses across the seven aspects were combined into a single score, which was used to determine the proportion of respondents perceiving their local area to have a "high" level of anti-social behaviour.  The aspects were:

  • Vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles
  • Teenagers hanging around on the streets
  • Rubbish or litter
  • Noisy neighbours
  • Drug use and dealing
  • Drunk or rowdy behaviour
  • Abandoned or burnt out cars

In 2008, 12% of Herefordshire residents perceived there to be a high level of anti-social behaviour in their local area.  This is markedly lower than previous years (29% in 2006, 28% in 2007).  However, it is not clear to what extent this reflects a real change in perceptions of anti-social behaviour, or just the way “local area” was defined.

Further analysis around this indicator looking at how opinions differ amongst different groups of people can be found in the Herefordshire quality of life survey report, beginning on page 84.

Last updated: 07 June 2012