Anti-social behaviour can make a community unpleasant to live in and can cause huge stress to those affected by it. The problem is now recognised by a number of laws and powers, designed to stop it.
What is anti-social behaviour?
The term anti-social behaviour is used to describe a wide range of behaviours that cause damage to a community or badly affect the lives of people that live there.
Common examples are:
- excessive noise and nuisance behaviour
- people being drunk or rowdy in public places
- vandalism, graffiti and other damage to property
- rubbish or litter lying around
To make neighbourhoods safer, the police, local councils, housing executive and housing associations have a range of powers to stop anti-social behaviour.
These powers have been created to keep areas safe and pleasant to live in.
A warning letter is used at an early stage to let people know that their behaviour is having a bad impact on others and allow them to take responsibility for their actions.
Acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs)
An ABC is a written agreement drawn up and signed by a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and the police, local council, housing executive or housing association. The ABC lists the anti-social things which the person has done and which they agree not to do again. The ABC will also include support for the person to help them change the reasons for their behaviour.
If the contract is broken this could lead to further action, such as an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)
An ASBO is a court order which can be made on anyone aged 10 or older who has acted in an anti-social manner, for example by rowdy behaviour, drinking on the street or vandalism.
The aim of an ASBO is to protect the public from anti-social behaviour by listing what the person subject to the ASBO must not do. It can prevent the person from being in certain areas or being in an area after a certain time.
An ASBO is a civil order, not a criminal penalty, which means that it won't appear on a person's criminal record. However, breaking the terms of an ASBO is a criminal offence which could mean a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years.
Who can help if you are experiencing anti-social behaviour
A number of agencies have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour. If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour, report incidents to your local police, Housing Executive office, or council.
Record as many details of the incidents as possible, including:
- what happened
- where it happened
- what time it happened
- names or descriptions of who was involved
- the effect the behaviour had on you
If you would like more information on what is being done in your area to tackle anti-social behaviour contact your local police, Housing Executive office, or district council.
- Local councils in Northern Ireland
- Find your nearest office (Northern Ireland Housing Executive website)
- Contacts (PSNI website)