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 stamp it out.
What is anti-social behaviour?
The term anti-social behaviour is used to describe things that cause damage to a community or 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 council and housing associations have been given new powers to stamp out anti-social behaviour.
These powers haven’t been created to stop you having fun or hanging out with your friends. They’re used to keep your area safe and pleasant to live in for you and your family.
Acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs)
An ABC is a written agreement drawn up and signed by the young person, their parents/carers and the police. The ABC lists the anti-social things which the person has done and which they agree not to do again.
This may help them see the impact that their behaviour has on other people and allow them to take responsibility for their actions.
An ABC can also include things the person will do, such as agreeing to attend school. Where possible the person who the contract is about should take part in drawing it up.
Help to address the reasons for their behaviour should be offered alongside the contract. 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 (contacts section)
- Find your nearest office (Northern Ireland Housing Executive website)
- Contacts (PSNI website)