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More than half of people who have been a victim or witnessed anti-social behaviour (ASB) do not report it, while 45% of people say ASB is a problem where they live, according to a new survey.
As the UK marks the first ASB Awareness Week (July 19-25) the survey, commissioned by community safety group Resolve, found that 39% of people think that levels of ASB will increase in their area once all lockdown measures come to an end this week.
Among those who have either witnessed or been victim to ASB in the last three years, 56% did not report it to anyone. 16% reported it to their council or social services and 6% to their housing association or landlord.
Of those to report ASB to a housing association or landlord, 22% said they were satisfied with the way it was handled and 59% were dissatisfied.
People want more to be done to tackle ASB in their local area with 56% of people – and 83% of those who have been a victim of ASB in the last 3 years – calling for more action. Around a third of people (35%) said ASB has increased in their local area in the last three years.
Meanwhile 20% of people say ASB has caused them to either move or consider moving home, and almost a quarter of people (23%) said it made them feel unsafe where they live.
Overall, more than one in ten adults (13%) surveyed said they have been a victim of ASB in the last 3 years. 45% of people say ASB is a problem where they live and 35% say levels of ASB in the local area has increased in the last three years.
There are vast regional variations in the issues caused, with 60% of those in the North of England who experience ASB at least yearly reporting that vandalism, criminal damage and graffiti is an issue in their local area. 44% of Londoners who have experience ASB at least yearly say begging, vagrancy or homeless people was an issue.
Rebecca Bryant OBE, Chief Executive of Resolve, said: “It’s time to back our communities and work together to make them safer.
“Addressing the challenges that anti-social behaviour poses is a national priority. People deserve to feel safe where they live. ASB can devastate the lives of victims and it is vitally important that it is reported to the correct people.”
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Safeguarding, said: “Every community should feel safe. Every individual should feel respected. And everyone should feel free to get on with their life without being subjected to nuisance or harmful anti-social behaviour.
“I am very pleased that the Home Office and I have had the opportunity to show our support for Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week. I would like to thank all those who have been involved with the arranging of activities and events for the week, particularly the staff at Resolve.
“We know that, where left unchecked, anti-social behaviour can have an overwhelming and devastating impact on victims and our communities. We are very much determined to create safe and peaceful communities where people can thrive.
“That is why we provided the police, local authorities and other local agencies with flexible powers and tools through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A multi-agency approach is absolutely vital to ensure that cases of anti-social behaviour are dealt with in a way that takes account of the needs of the victim and the wider community.”
Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing added: “Anti-social behaviour is not just a crime, it is a threat to the health of our society – blighting communities and threatening people’s physical and mental health. Behaviour that if left unchecked, can easily turn into even more serious and harmful offences. There needs to be a concerted effort, not just at every tier of government, but at every level of society, to tackle it.
“We are working together across the government, the housing sector, and with other agencies like Resolve to deliver our Social Housing White Paper – the Charter for Social Housing Residents commitment to provide victims of ASB with support and information on how to report ASB, identify practical ways to prevent further reoffending and make our communities safer. We will be making an announcement on our progress shortly.
“Our multi-billion pound Levelling-Up Fund and our Towns Fund to spur growth, create jobs and build prosperous, thriving neighbourhoods are also an essential part of our strategy to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour in the long-term.”
Of those surveyed who said they had either been a victim of, or a witness to ASB, in the last 3 years most (56%) did not report it to anyone. That is up slightly from 54% last year.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales said a ‘victims first’ approach was needed to tackling ASB, and more needed to be done to understand why people did not report it.
“For too long, ASB has been seen as a low-level nuisance - a sort of sub-crime,” she said. “This has to stop.”
“ASB is often directed at victims who are vulnerable, or different in some way, and it is often committed at their homes. It is almost always repetitive and oppressive. This kind of behaviour leaves a long and lasting impact on individuals, families and on the local communities that suffer it.
“We must understand why more than half of people who are victims or witness to ASB don’t come forward to report it. The worry is that victims are too scared to take a stand against ASB. We must make sure that all the authorities know of this hidden victim community and listen out keenly for their voices to be heard.”
The planned end of lockdown restrictions at the end of July in England is also causing concern. 39% of people expect levels of ASB to rise in their local area once Covid restrictions are lifted. This figure is higher among those who have been a victim of ASB in the last three years, with 57% expecting an increase.
Andy Prophet, Assistant Chief Constable at Essex Police and National Policing Lead for tackling Anti-Social Behaviour, said: “Anti-Social Behaviour is not low-level. It can wreck lives and damages communities.
“Policing will continue to work in close partnership with other local agencies to listen to victims, understand their problem and take sensible, joined up action to address the underlying causes.
“In particular we will focus our attention on those who repeatedly behave in an anti-social manner, targeting others and causing fear in our communities."