The housing sector has come together with the government, emergency services and community groups to mark the first-ever Antisocial Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week.
Organised by community safety group Resolve, ASB Awareness Week is being backed by the Home Office, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Local Government Association (LGA), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC).
The initative, which will run from 19 to 25 July 2021, aims to bring together housing providers, councils, police forces, fire services and community groups from across the country to discuss how to deal with ASB and showcase the work they are doing to keep communities safe.
A new survey commissioned by Resolve finds that over half of people who have been a victim or witnessed ASB do not report it, while 45% of people say ASB is a problem where they live.
Furthermore, 39% of people are concerned that levels of ASB will increase in their area as all lockdown measures come to an end this week.
Rebecca Bryant OBE, chief executive of Resolve, said: “It’s time to back our communities and work together to make them safer. Addressing the challenges that anti-social behaviour poses is a national priority. People deserve to feel safe where they live. ASB can devastate the lives of victims and it is vitally important that it is reported to the correct people.”
ASB Awareness Week aims to address a rise in antisocial behaviour, with agencies across the UK reportedly dealing with a huge rise in ASB cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over one in ten adults (13%) surveyed by Resolve said they have been a victim of ASB in the last three years, while 35% say that levels of ASB have increased in their local area over the same period.
Resolve’s survey has revealed a desire among tenants for greater action on ASB and a lack of confidence that the issue will be dealt with sufficiently by housing associations and landlords.
56% of those surveyed said they wanted more to be done to tackle ASB in their local area, while 56% of those who witnessed or have been victim to ASB in the last three years did not report it to anyone, a slight increase from 54% who said the same last year.
Of those who did report ASB to a housing association or landlord, just 22% said they were satisfied with how it was handled, while 59% said they were dissatisfied.
20% of those surveyed said that ASB has caused them to either move or consider moving home, while almost a quarter of people (23%) said it made them feel unsafe where they live.
The survey also revealed regional variations in ASB, with respondents in the North of England more likely to cite vandalism, criminal damage and graffiti as an issue in their local area. Begging, vagrancy or homeless people was a more common concern among Londoners.
Dame Vera Baird QC, Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, said that a “victims first” approach is needed to tackle ASB, calling for more to be done to understand why people do not report it.
“For too long, ASB has been seen as a low-level nuisance – a sort of sub-crime,” she said. “This has to stop. ASB is often directed at victims who are vulnerable, or different in some way, and it is often committed at their homes. It is almost always repetitive and oppressive. This kind of behaviour leaves a long and lasting impact on individuals, families and on the local communities that suffer it.
“We must understand why more than half of people who are victims or witness to ASB don’t come forward to report it. The worry is that victims are too scared to take a stand against ASB. We must make sure that all the authorities know of this hidden victim community and listen out keenly for their voices to be heard.”
Victoria Atkins MP, minister for safeguarding, commented: “Every community should feel safe. Every individual should feel respected. And everyone should feel free to get on with their life without being subjected to nuisance or harmful anti-social behaviour.
“I am very pleased that the Home Office and I have had the opportunity to show our support for Antisocial Behaviour Awareness Week. I would like to thank all those who have been involved with the arranging of activities and events for the week, particularly the staff at Resolve.
“We know that, where left unchecked, anti-social behaviour can have an overwhelming and devastating impact on victims and our communities. We are very much determined to create safe and peaceful communities where people can thrive.
“That is why we provided the police, local authorities and other local agencies with flexible powers and tools through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A multi-agency approach is absolutely vital to ensure that cases of anti-social behaviour are dealt with in a way that takes account of the needs of the victim and the wider community.”
Eddie Hughes MP, minister for rough sleeping and housing, added: “Anti-social behaviour is not just a crime, it is a threat to the health of our society – blighting communities and threatening people’s physical and mental health. Behaviour that if left unchecked, can easily turn into even more serious and harmful offences. There needs to be a concerted effort, not just at every tier of government, but at every level of society, to tackle it.
“We are working together across the government, the housing sector, and with other agencies like Resolve to deliver our Social Housing White Paper – the Charter for Social Housing Residents commitment to provide victims of ASB with support and information on how to report ASB, identify practical ways to prevent further reoffending and make our communities safer. We will be making an announcement on our progress shortly.
“Our multi-billion pound Levelling-Up Fund and our Towns Fund to spur growth, create jobs and build prosperous, thriving neighbourhoods are also an essential part of our strategy to tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour in the long-term.”
For more information about ASB Awareness Week, please visit Resolve’s website: www.resolveuk.org.uk.
Image credit: Pixabay.