Complaining About Anti Social Behaviour
Anti-social behaviour can blight community life and if you suffer as a consequence it is your responsibility and right to take action to stop the public nuisance.
What is Anti-social Behaviour?It can mean different things to different people, but the official line is that anti-social behaviour is that that causes, or likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people not in the same household as the perpetrator.
Typically this behaviour includes; Verbal abuse, racist and homophobic abuse, intimidation of people through threats or violence, dumping rubbish, vandalism and criminal damage, use of property for illicit purposes, noise and Child bullying.
Crucially for such behaviour to qualify as being an anti-social problem rather than an unlawful act it must be persistent.
What Action Can be Taken?The appropriate action to take depends on the type of anti-social behaviour being committed and the type of resolution you are seeking. For instance, you might want compensation for damage or injury suffered, for the perpetrator(s) to be moved from the area, or simply an apology and an assurance the behaviour will stop forthwith.
The options open to you include contacting the local authority, the landlord, the police or taking action yourself.
Face to Face ResolutionIf you just want the anti-social behaviour to stop, and it is appropriate, then the immediate course of action should be to contact the perpetrator directly yourself. They should be given chance to resolve the issue before it escalates into an official complaint. Many anti-social problems are nipped in the bud with face to face communication.
Explain what the problem is and how it is affecting you. It is important to stay calm and reasonable at all times, and listen to the perpetrator’s point of view. If the discussion leads nowhere then rather than descend into a futile argument it is advisable to retreat and seek alternative action.
MediationIf you don’t want to resort to official action but can’t come to a satisfactory resolution with the perpetrator then it might be worth considering a mediation scheme. This is where a neutral third party helps two disputing parties to achieve a mutually acceptable solution. There are community mediation services available for free which specialise in disputes between neighbours or anyone within the community over issues like burglaries, parking, rubbish and noise.
Mediation is only a viable option if the perpetrator of anti-social behaviour consents to trying to seek a resolution. If they are unwilling then you will have to resort to third-party intervention.
Contact the LandlordIf the perpetrator lives in rented accommodation then one option is to ask their landlord to take action against their anti-social behaviour. The landlord may have a set policy and procedures for dealing with such problems. Local authority landlords, for example, must have anti-social behaviour policies in place and in England and Wales, so must housing association landlords.Nevertheless any landlord has the power to take action against anti-social behaviour. They could ask the police or local authority to take action, apply to court for an eviction notice or an anti-social behaviour order or, in exceptional circumstances, even re-house the victim or perpetrator.
Contact the Local AuthorityAnother option is to make a formal complaint to your local authority. Councils are duty bound to investigate anti-social behaviour, such as petty vandalism, drunkenness, intimidation, excessive noise, which adversely affects their constituent community.
They also have the power to take action against those citizens who are causing the public nuisance. They can:
- Apply for a court order to stop or prevent a citizen’s anti-social behaviour in its area.
- Apply for a court order to shut down premises that are the source of persistent disorder.
- Prosecute if the behaviour constitutes a criminal offence.
- Take action to evict the individual responsible for anti-social behaviour if they live in local authority accommodation.
- Offer the victim alternative accommodation.
If you are unhappy with the way the local authority deals with your complaint about anti-social behaviour then you are entitled to contact the local government ombudsman.
Contact the PoliceIf the anti-social behaviour constitutes a criminal offence then you should contact the local constabulary. They will be able to prosecute somebody who has, for instance, attacked another person, wilfully damaged someone else’s property, incited racial or homophobic hatred, or caused harassment, alarm or distress intentionally.
Taking Legal ActionVictims of anti-social behaviour have been known to take matters into their own hands and pursue legal action to claim compensation or an order to stop the perpetrator continuing their behaviour.
However, before pursuing this path it is recommended that you first consult an experienced adviser, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau.