Targeted uniformed patrols have helped drive down antisocial behaviour (ASB) by over 30% in some ‘hotspot’ areas, the government has said.

Part of the government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, launched six months ago, the latest data shows that since uniformed patrols have been rolled out in 10 pilot areas, there have been over 250 arrests, over 600 stop and searches and around 1,000 other enforcement actions such as community protection notices and public protection orders.

The government has allocated up to £20 million in funding to invest in 16 pilot areas to trial either ‘hotspot’ police and enforcement patrols or a new ‘Immediate Justice’ scheme to bring in swift and visible punishments to perpetrators of ASB, with some areas trialling both schemes.

Several trial forces have seen significant declines in ASB, with Lancashire Constabulary reporting a 36% fall in reported incidents in Brunswick, Blackpool compared to the same period last year when patrols weren’t in place.

Meanwhile, Staffordshire Police have reported a combined 20% fall in reported incidents of ASB across five locations in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme compared to the previous year.

It’s estimated that at least 150,000 hours of additional individual police and partner ‘hotspot’ patrols will be delivered by March 2024 across the 10 pilot areas before the initiative is rolled out across every police force in England and Wales later in the year.

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Antisocial behaviour ruins neighbourhoods and brings fear and misery to local people, be it people smoking cannabis in the street, intimidating gatherings in public spaces or acts of vandalism.

“We will not tolerate it. I am delighted that our action plan and zero-tolerance approach is beginning to have a positive impact in communities up and down the country.

“By giving the police and local partners the tools they need to tackle antisocial behaviour we can help ensure wherever people live they can feel safe and proud of the place they call home.”

Other measures that have been delivered since the launch of the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan include:

  • Every police and crime commissioner in England and Wales has been allocated up to £1 million as part of the Safer Streets Fund to cover the period from 1 October 2023 to 31 March 2025, to run local projects to combat antisocial behaviour, acquisitive crime and violence against women and girls
  • Additional funding of up to £2.5 million has been put in place for transport safety officers to make public transport safer, including specially-trained staff to deal with low-level nuisance and disorder
  • Punishment for those who graffiti, litter or fly tip has been increased with fines of up to £500 and £1,000
  • An extra one million hours of youth services has been provided for areas with the highest rates of ASB.

In the coming months, the government says it will launch the Anti-Social Behaviour One-Stop Shop, where people can report ASB to the right local responders and get feedback on the response. According to the government, this will also enable local agencies to share information on perpetrators of ASB within communities, identify repeat offenders and take necessary action.

Further action also being taken over the coming months includes:

  • More powers being put in place for landlords and housing associations to evict unruly tenants who ruin their neighbours’ lives through ASB
  • Parks and green spaces being restored with up to £5 million to make them safer with new CCTV and repairing equipment and playgrounds, and to plant more trees and flowers
  • Work underway to bring forward legislation to repeal the Vagrancy Act 1824, with a package of new measures to better equip the police and local authorities to respond to nuisance begging and rough sleeping which can be harmful to individuals themselves and to the wider public.

Rebecca Bryant OBE, Chief Executive of Resolve, said: “We know from our own research that many victims and witnesses don’t report antisocial behaviour, but they’d be more likely to report behaviour if there was a more visible police and agency presence.

“This ‘hotspot’ approach makes the best use of limited resources, and we very much look forward to seeing it rolled out across the country.”

Case study 1: Lancashire Constabulary

This year, hotspot patrols in Brunswick, Blackpool by Lancashire Constabulary during July, August and September have seen police working with local partners to tackle antisocial behaviour including begging, sex working and threatening behaviour. The increased presence of officers on the street has seen reports of incidents antisocial behaviour decline by 36.6% compared to the same period last year.

Case study 2: Staffordshire Police

This year, hotspot policing by Staffordshire Police during July, August, and September in five hotspot areas in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme has seen a combined decline in reported incidents of antisocial behaviour of 20% by members of the public compared to the same period last year.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre, additional police patrols were put in place to combat drug and alcohol related antisocial behaviour. After identifying areas where drug paraphernalia was being discarded, follow-up work with partner agencies by the police took place to clean up the area alongside high visibility patrols to provide reassurance to the local community and deter drug users.

After dispersing groups of young people, a quantity of drugs, including monkey dust and cannabis, was seized alongside several knives.

Case study 3: Essex Police

Over 2,757 hours of police patrols and 1,400 hours of Community Safety Partnership patrols have now been delivered in 11 ASB hotspots across Essex. As a result, there has been:

  • 35 arrests
  • 109 stop and searches
  • 58 informal warnings issued
  • 45 fixed penalty notices issued.

In one pilot area, Debden, police and Community Safety Partnership teams have worked collaboratively to use a public space protection order (PSPO) to tackle a high volume of antisocial behaviour incidents relating to drug taking, nuisance noise, aggressive begging, intimidation and fighting. This work has made a difference to local business owners and the public who praised the positive proactive work of the team.

Case study 4: Sussex Police

In Sussex, a man was caught graffiti tagging on an industrial estate, damaging property and causing a negative effect on surrounding businesses, staff and members of public passing through the area.

The individual was referred by officers into the ‘Immediate Justice’ scheme and he was required to carry out reparative work within Brighton’s city centre, including litter picking and weeding public planters in an area known for ASB incidents.