What Is Anti-Social Behaviour?
‘Anti-social behaviour is anything which causes harassment, alarm or distress to any other person as defined in the Crime and Disorder Act (1998)’. These were the words of PC Ward, the Excelsior Academy police officer. In our survey of 50 students in years 9 and 11, 94% of students from Milburn School have witnessed anti-social behaviour. We also asked PC Ward about how it affects the local community. He told us that ‘Crime and anti-social behaviour can affect the quality of life in the community, as can the fear of anti-social behaviour and crime as well’. We asked PC Ward if littering is an issue because we are aware that the back-alleys of some of the Benwell terraces were previously extremely untidy and covered with litter. He replied: ‘It is not as much of a police priority as crime, it’s more of the local authority’s issue to address’.
PC Ward added, ‘Anti-social behaviour is particularly an issue in Newcastle city centre due to the night-time economy and vibrant nightlife that Newcastle has had for many years. There is drink-related disorder because of this, as well as theft due to the concentration of retail outlets in Newcastle. Shoplifting is more prevalent there also. There are however some examples of this kind of disorder more locally’. So what causes it?
Anti-social behaviour can be caused by people being bored, drinking or peer pressure. Anti-social behaviour can involve major crimes ranging from serious assaults to bullying and the way it is represented (cyber, physical and verbal). Regarding bullying, this does not just happen outside, a lot of this actually happens on social media such as Facebook, which can cause major problems like fighting and other types of aggression. Milburn School Welfare Manager, Mrs Smith, said ‘the main cause for anti-social behaviour in school is definitely social media’.
In fact, 65% of students surveyed thought that anti-social behaviour is committed by 10-19 year olds. 30% said 20-29 year olds were responsible and 5% thought it was other ages. This information is important because we found out it is mostly young people who are committing anti-social crimes and this could help figure out a solution and could lead to more youth clubs.
Young people tend to commit these crimes because they are bored. This may also turn some to drugs. This makes others want to be like them and makes even more people commit anti-social behaviour because they think it’s ‘fun’. In reality, the effects are far from fun…
One of the major effects of anti-social behaviour in our local area is littering. In the words of PC Ward, ‘due to my role working in the academy, I challenge students who litter as I would in the community. Parents who wait for their youngest children become upset when there is a lack of respect for the local community. Unfortunately when people witness littering they think it is acceptable behaviour but it does impact on local people’s lives and their respect for their community’. We found that 78% of students questioned had witnessed littering as it causes damage to our surroundings.
Another shocking statistic is that 80% of people have witnessed bullying. This can have an effect on their education as victims are afraid to attend school because of bullies. Mrs Smith has said ‘it can make students extremely unhappy and they may remember it for many years to come’.
One final effect of anti-social behaviour is that people may lose personal possessions, or even money, due to theft. These items can be very valuable to the person and being a victim of such crime can be extremely traumatic. So how can such effects be tackled in future?
Anti-social behaviour can be prevented in future by young people, adults and the government. Young people in particular can help prevent it by speaking to the police or reporting such behaviour to the local council.
The majority of people surveyed (75%) didn’t know whether the police were doing enough. From speaking to PC Ward, we found that the police are working extremely hard to tackle anti-social behaviour yet it seems that people don’t always know what the police are doing. Maybe the police need to advertise what their responses to anti-social behaviour are? PC Ward has stated that there are online facilities by Northumbria Police where people can find the required information.
Another solution for tackling littering would be that the local council definitely has an important role to play. For example, for the council to prevent littering, they could hire litter pickers, which would make the local area tidier.
Finally, over 90% of the students surveyed wanted more parks which could prevent anti-social behaviour for people between 10 and 19. When we interviewed Mrs Smith she gave us a powerful message that is important for everyone attempting to solve anti-social behaviour: ‘The way forward is to get the entire community on board. Everyone can work together to resolve these issues’.
Written by 9M1, Milburn School, Excelsior Academy