An Overview of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)

 

Anti-social behaviour is an offence under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. For behaviour to be considered anti-social, the behaviour must be persistent, which causes (or is likely to cause) harassment, alarm or distress to a person. Any person, including adults or children, can carry out anti-social behaviour.

 

Examples can include:

  • Verbal abuse;

  • Harassment because of gender, race, disability or sexuality;

  • Violence or threats of violence;

  • Systematic bullying and/or intimidation;

  • Noise which is part of a pattern of antisocial behaviour;

  • Dumping rubbish;

  • Vandalism, damage to property and graffiti.

 

However, not all forms of offensive behaviour is serious enough to amount to anti-social behaviour. For example, if you are able to smell your neighbour’s cooking or hear a baby crying, this will not be deemed anti-social.

 

Community trigger

A community trigger provides victims of persistent anti-social behaviour the right to ask a local authority to review previous methods used to deal with anti-social behaviour complaints and what further steps should be taken where such behaviour persists.

 

This does not replace complaints procedures of individuals to local police, rather it should be used if you have complained about the incident to the council, police or a social landlord (a registered housing provider) about three separate incidents in the last six months, but no action has been taken.

 

Each local authority has a community trigger request that can be filled out to initiate the process.

 

Nuisance

Nuisance is a tort relating to land and is not a criminal offence. This is where an action or omission causes annoyance, injury or damage to a property or disrupts a person’s ability to enjoy their property.

 

There are 3 forms of nuisance:

  1. Statutory nuisance;

  2. Public nuisance;

  3. Private nuisance.

 

Statutory nuisance

Statutory nuisance is commonly associated with acts that result in environmental damage. Under statute, there are an exhaustive list of examples that amount to statutory nuisances:

  • Premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  • Smoke emitted from premises;

  • Fumes or gases emitted from premises;

  • Dust, steam, smell or other waste from industrial premises;

  • Accumulation or deposits of harmful waste;

  • Insects emanating from relevant industrial/trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  • Artificial light emitted from premises;

  • Noise emitted from premises;

  • Noise caused by vehicles, machinery or equipment in a street.

 

If you wish to make a complaint regarding statutory nuisance, every local authority has a duty to inspect its area for statutory nuisance and take reasonable steps to investigate complaints of statutory nuisance that it receives. Typically, this is conducted by Environmental Health Officers.

 

Public nuisance

Public nuisance is an act that affects the general public, or a group of persons from exercising or enjoying rights common to all. These can arise from a single act. Examples include obstructing the highway and using the land which in a way that creates a dangerous environment.

 

Private nuisance

Private nuisance occurs when something or an act from one property interferes with a neighbouring property, and the user’s enjoyment of the property. This is commonly seen in cases where an occupier of land is affected by noise emanating from a neighbouring property.

 

In instances where a landlord has control of parts of a building let to you, the landlord may be liable in nuisance if defects cause interference with your enjoyment of the property. Examples include where a landlord fails to maintain the roof or gutter, resulting in rainwater leaking into the property.

 

It is worth noting that physical damage is not necessary, it must be shown that the nuisance ‘damage’ has disrupted or interfered with your enjoyment of your property.

 

What you can do

 

Where the conduct is from a neighbour, try having a civil discussion with them as a first course of action if you feel like it is safe to do so.

Where the conduct is illegal in nature (i.e. violent or threatening to you or others) report it to the police. (call 999 if it is an emergency and the crime is ongoing, and otherwise 101).

 

Where the conduct is persistent and ongoing, keep records of when it occurs. For example, if a neighbour plays the drums during late hours of the night, note down the time it started to end, the duration of the noise. Specifically, with loud noise, try to record the noise on a phone or noise recording device as evidence.

 

If the behaviour is concerned with dumping rubbish and waste disposal, take pictures of where it is occurring if it is safe to do so. You should record the date of the photos.

 

Any messages exchanged with the suspected perpetrator of the behaviour should also be kept for evidence. 

 

You may want to seek advice from a doctor if you suspect that the anti-social behaviour/nuisance has detrimentally affected, or has the capacity to harm, your health. This can be used as evidence to show local authorities and the police to make them take complaints more seriously.

 

Local councils may adopt different policies when dealing with anti-social behaviour complaints. Listed below are links to some local council policies within Devon county.

If your area is not listed - check your local council’s website to see if they have their own policy on anti-social behaviour matters.

 

  1. Exeter City Council: https://exeter.gov.uk/media/3159/housing-asb-policy-2016.pdf

  2. Mid Devon District Council: https://www.middevon.gov.uk/residents/housing/council-housing/anti-social-behaviour-council-housing/how-we-deal-with-anti-social-behaviour/

  3. East Devon DIstrict Council: https://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/environmental-health-and-wellbeing/environmental-health-information/anti-social-behaviour/

  4. South Hams District Council: https://www.westdevon.gov.uk/media/4880/Anti-Social-Behaviour-Policy-SHWD/pdf/Anti_social_behaviour_policy_SHWD.pdf?m=637281814533470000

  5. West Devon District Council: https://www.westdevon.gov.uk/media/4880/Anti-Social-Behaviour-Policy-SHWD/pdf/Anti_social_behaviour_policy_SHWD.pdf?m=637281814533470000

  6. Torridge District Council: https://www.torridge.gov.uk/article/16511/My-neighbour-is-causing-me-problems-with-their-behaviour---what-can-I-do

Request assistance by emailing a2jclinic@exeter.ac.uk