ASB frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between crime and anti-social behaviour?

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is not something that exists as an offence in its own right. It is defined as behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment alarm and or distress to others. It is about a continuous, longstanding process whereby victims are repeatedly subjected to abusive behaviour from individuals who typically are known to them. It includes behaviour such as noise nuisance and other environmental crime, and verbal abuse and intimidation. The court imposes an ASBO when it believes that the behaviour will not otherwise cease. Crime is doing something forbidden by law. That could mean theft, assault, fraud, selling drugs. Typically, it is a one off event in which victims and witnesses do not know the perpetrator. Crime is a serious matter because society finds even one incident to be worthy of punishment. Anti-social behaviour is serious, even when individual events may not be noteworthy in isolation, because of the devastating effect that the process, the repetition and the context can have on victims, witnesses and communities.

How do I find out statistics about anti-social behaviour in my area?

You can find out statistics about anti social behaviour in your area by looking at Police Maps

How do I complain about the way my case is being handled?

The first step is to telephone, write to or email the council. There is a standard complaints form on this website (need link). You should set out the facts and how you feel the council can remedy the matter. You can also write to your Ward Councillor or your local MP. If you are not satisfied with how your complaint has been dealt with you can request a review by the Chief Executive of the council. A complaint can also be referred to the Local Government Ombudsman. Further details can be found at www.lgo.org.uk.

What can I do about kids playing ball games in my street?

Unless a bylaw has been imposed by the local authority to run alongside a 'no ball games' sign no legal action can be taken.

What can I do about intimidating groups hanging around?

It is important to consider what makes the group intimidating. You can contact the local authority’s anti-social behaviour officer or the police to report the situation to them. Keep a diary of incidents to show a pattern of behaviour: the time, place, how many people are congregating. The more evidence there is to establish a pattern of anti-social behaviour the more effective the remedy will be.

My neighbour has complained about my children making noise. What can I do?

Try to consider the complaint as genuine. Sometimes the noise from children can be very loud even if they are playing nicely. Also keep talking to your neighbours and try to resolve the issue amicably.

Do private owners / agents have a legal responsibility for the actions of their tenants?

Not unless they are subject to selective licensing under the Housing Act 2004 by the local authority. Generally, tenants in private rented accommodation may be dealt with by the local authority or the police if existing legislation can be applied to their behaviour.

What responsibilities do social landlords have for the actions of their tenants?

Section 12 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 requires all social landlords (local housing authorities, registered social landlords and housing action trusts) to prepare and publish statements and summaries of their policies and procedures in relation to anti-social behaviour so that everyone can see what commitments the landlord is making. Section 13 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 builds on housing injunctions that are available in the Housing Act 1996.

An injunction prohibits the person concerned from engaging in specified types of behaviour. Some injunctions can exclude the person from specified places or areas. Breach of the conditions of an injunction can result in up to two years' imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for contempt of court. Injunctions are increasingly used to control anti-social behaviour in situ rather than displacing the problem, for example by evicting nuisance tenants who are then able to continue the behaviour in another property.

Under this act, registered social landlords and housing action trusts have the same powers to protect their tenants as local authorities, including the ability to obtain a power of arrest without needing to prove a breach of a tenancy agreement.

The anti-social behaviour does not have to occur in or near the landlord's properties to be covered (so long as there is some link with the landlord's housing management function). For example, housing staff may be protected even when they are working away from the locality, and even when they are not at work (where the anti-social behaviour has some link with their work). A power of arrest or an exclusion order is available where there has been serious anti-social behaviour but no violence or threat of violence. A power of arrest or an exclusion order is available where there is a significant risk of harm - this could include emotional or psychological harm.

Local authorities, housing action trusts and registered social landlords may apply to the County Court to allow a tenancy to be brought to an end by a demotion order. Upon granting of the order, the tenancy is replaced with a less secure form of tenancy. When things go wrong and a tenant fails to meet the standards of reasonable behaviour established by their tenancy agreement, a landlord may seek to protect the rights of other tenants and the wider community by enforcing the terms of the tenancy.

Seeking repossession of someone's home is an extremely serious action and therefore where possession is sought on the basis of the anti-social behaviour of tenants, the court must be satisfied, on the basis of the evidence, that it is reasonable to do so.

What action can be taken against anti-social neighbours who are owner/occupiers?

Owner occupiers are not exempt from legal action being taken against them if they behave antisocially. In very serious cases, the local authority and the police or a registered social landlord can make an application for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) or an injunction if it is appropriate to do so. There are also powers available under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which can be used to deal with statutory nuisance such as noise.

Is it legal to film people without their knowledge?

It is only legal to partake in covert surveillance if authority has been given under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, in a domestic situation there are no legal constraints on domestic CCTV being installed and for recordings to be taken and stored by the resident without the knowledge of the person who has been filmed. It is only appropriate to focus a CCTV camera on the boundary of your own property for the purpose of security although there is no legislation that specifically prevents domestic CCTV from covering the area around a dwelling.