Tackling anti-social behaviour: case studies

A series of council case studies on anti-social behaviour.

Foreword by Councillor Nesil Caliskan, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board

Left untackled we know that anti-social behaviour (ASB) can have a devastating impact on communities and individuals. Many ASB offences are serious issues for local residents and businesses, and councils are keen to protect them from offenders who can make the lives of those they target a misery.

When we use the term “anti-social behaviour”, we are referring to behaviour which involves “acting in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household”.

We sometimes hear ASB referred to as ‘low-level’ crime, but this dismisses the cumulative impact that anti-social behaviour can have on its victims. As Baroness Newlove, the former Victims Commissioner for England and Wales, highlights in her report “Anti-Social Behaviour: Living a Nightmare”.

ASB is often downplayed as a petty, ‘low-level’ crime. But put yourself in their shoes – to suffer from ASB is an ordeal that causes misery, disturbs sleep, anxiety, work and relationships – leaving victims feeling unsafe and afraid in their own homes. It can feel like you are living a nightmare. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Police Chiefs’ Council identified an increase in reports of anti-social behaviour, particularly during the lockdown period. In part, they found this could be attributed to noise nuisance and neighbour disputes, as well as wider perceptions of households flouting the social-distancing rules.

Over time, there will need to be a full asessment as to why there has been an increase in ASB referrals during the pandemic and whether this trend continues post-lockdown. What remains clear is that anti-social behaviour continues to be prevalent in our local communities, and all partners need to take action to help prevent and tackle this type of behaviour. 

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 seeks to place victims at the heart of local responses to anti-social behaviour. Through the introduction of ASB case reviews (known as the ‘Community Trigger’), the Act provides a mechanism to help ASB victims. The Community Trigger also offers an opportunity to review those responses where problems continue, to make sure councils, the police and their partners have done all they can to intervene and take further action where needed.

We have pulled together a series of case studies to highlight some examples of best practice across local government. The case studies highlight how councils have been working in partnership to deliver support for ASB victims and tackle perpetrator’s behaviour.

We also wanted to highlight areas that have taken the ASB Help Pledge, which demonstrates a commitment to improving awareness of the Community Trigger process and using the Community Trigger to put victims first and deter perpetrators. (Further information on the Community Trigger is included within this case studies document, available on this Gov.UK webpage, or included within the Government’s statutory guidance.)

We would like to thank all the councils and their partners who shared their experiences and examples of best practice. We would also like to thank ASB Help, who continue to provide support to councils on taking the ASB Help Pledge.

I hope you find these case studies useful.

Community Trigger – explanatory note

The Home Office statutory guidance outlines the following information on the Community Trigger process: 

Purpose: To give victims and communities the right to request a review of their case where a local threshold is met, and to bring agencies together to take a joined up, problem-solving approach to find a solution for the victim.

Relevant bodies and responsible authorities: Councils; Police; Clinical Commissioning Groups in England and Local Health Boards in Wales; and Registered providers of social housing who are co-opted into this group.

Threshold: To be defined by the local agencies, but not more than three complaints in the previous six-month period.

May also take account of:

- the persistence of the anti-social behaviour;

- the harm or potential harm caused by the anti-social behaviour;

- the adequacy of response to the anti-social behaviour.

The relevant bodies (listed above) must publish details of the procedure to ensure that victims are aware that they can apply in appropriate circumstances.

Details: When an ASB Case Review is requested, the relevant bodies must decide whether the threshold has been met and communicate this to the victim.

If the threshold is met:

- a case review will be undertaken by the relevant bodies. They will share information related to the case, review what action has previously been taken and decide whether additional actions are possible. The local ASB Case Review procedure should clearly state the timescales in which the review will be undertaken;

- the review will see the relevant bodies adopting a problem-solving approach to ensure that all the drivers and causes of the behaviour are identified and a solution sought, whilst ensuring that the victim receives appropriate support;

- the victim is informed of the outcome of the review. Where further actions are necessary an action plan will be discussed with the victim, including timescales.

If the threshold is not met:

- although the formal procedures will not be invoked, this does provide an opportunity for the relevant bodies to review the case to determine whether there is more that can be done.

Agencies have a duty to publish specified data on the Community Trigger at least every twelve months.

Who can use the ASB Case Review/Community Trigger procedure:  A victim of anti-social behaviour or another person acting on behalf of the victim with his or her consent, such as a carer or family member, Member of Parliament, local councillor or other professional. The victim may be an individual, a business or a community group.


Further information and resources

If you would like to get in touch about the case studies or discuss this policy issue in further detail, please contact [email protected]

With thanks to Rachel Potter, who the LGA commissioned to write this report.