Tackling anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour includes a range of behaviours, for example, noisy neighbours, people being drunk or rowdy in public places and vandalism, which can have a negative effect on some people's quality of life. It can contribute to an environment where crime can take hold. But there are ways to tackle the problem.
What can you do?
If anti-social behaviour is a problem in your area, you can:
- talk to your local Policing and Community Safety Partnership Manager who can help you tackle the problem
- report anti-social behaviour incidents to your local police, Housing Executive or council
- get involved to help prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour when it does occur
- be a witness to support legal action and stop anti-social behaviour by getting court orders
If you are a witness, in some cases your identity can be withheld.
Anti-Social Behaviour Order
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), were introduced to Northern Ireland in 2004. They are civil orders granted by a court to protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The police, councils, or Housing Executive have the authority to apply to the court for an ASBO. The courts can also make an ASBO in addition to a sentence or conditional discharge where an individual is convicted of a criminal offence.
An ASBO may be made on any person aged 10 or over who has acted in an anti-social manner. ASBOs last for a minimum of two years and aim to prohibit an individual from repeating the offending behaviour. ASBOs are civil orders not a criminal penalty so if someone with an ASBO adheres to its terms there are no further consequences. However a breach of any of the terms of the order is considered a criminal offence for which the normal procedures for prosecution of criminal offences apply. Breaches of an ASBO can result in a fine or a custodial sentence.
Acceptable Behaviour Contract
An Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) is a written agreement between a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and one or more local agencies whose role it is to prevent such behaviour.
ABCs are designed to get individuals to acknowledge their anti-social behaviour and the effect it has on others with the aim of stopping that behaviour at an early stage.
An ABC sets out the types of anti-social acts the person agrees not to continue and outlines the consequences if the Contract is breached. Although designed for young people, ABCs can be used for offenders of any age. Informal and flexible, they can be used for various types of anti-social behaviour. While they aren’t legally binding, they can be referred to in court as evidence in ASBO applications, or in eviction or possession proceedings.