Anti-social behaviour is generally
defined as anything which causes harassment, stress
or alarm to other members of the community.
Sometimes this behaviour is a crime (e.g.
vandalism), other times it isnít (e.g. playing
football in the street). Adults can behave
anti-socially as well, for example driving
carelessly in residential areas, playing loud music
or begging in the town centre.
Young people are often blamed for anti-social behaviour, sometimes unfairly. Young people are citizens, and they have the right to be out with their friends like anyone else. But young people also need to understand that their behaviour, especially in groups, can sometimes frighten or upset people even if they donít mean it to.
If the Police think that young people are behaving anti-socially, then they can talk to them and explain whatís wrong. If itís a big problem, they might visit the parents, schools or youth clubs as well.
If problems continue, then the young person might be asked to agree to an Acceptable Behaviour Contract ABC).
As a last resort, the Police can ask a Court to issue an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) which makes it a crime for the young person to do certain things. This might include wearing a hoodie, travelling in a car, or associating with specific people in public. An ASBO can last up to 5 years and have a serious effect on a young personís life - nobody wants that unless itís really necessary.
If you are a young person who has been accused of anti-social behaviour, itís really important that you calm down and listen to the Police. If you still donít understand why they are accusing you, ask a parent or a safe adult like a teacher or youth worker to help you to talk to the Police. Remember that the Police are only doing their job, and they want to help you stay out of trouble. If you are arrested or taken to court, then itís important that you take advice from the free solicitor straight away.
If you are suffering from anti-social behaviour by young people, then you can get help and advice from your local Police station or Crime Reduction Partnership. Please remember that young people donít always understand the impact of their behaviour, and be patient whilst the Police and other services try to sort it out for you.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)
If problems continue, then the
young person might be asked to agree to an
Acceptable Behaviour Contract. This is a promise to
stop doing certain things which are upsetting other
people, and sometimes a promise of a reward or
leisure activity for them if they succeed. An ABC is
voluntary, so young people donít have to agree to it
unless they think itís fair.
If the young person wonít agree to an ABC, or if they donít keep to the promises they have made, then the Police will probably start to deal with them as offenders. Laws like the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act make it a crime to behave in a disorderly way that upsets people, and there are other laws for vandalism, under-age drinking etc. The young person will get a criminal record, and they may have to go to Court with their parents.