One of the biggest problems affecting communities in Cornwall is anti-social behaviour. This covers malicious, thoughtless and inconsiderate activity. These have the potential to damage community life.
Every week new acts of anti-social behaviour are reported. For all those reports however, far more remain unreported. People are forced to put up with behaviour that can blight all areas of personal and community life.
Anti-social behaviour is defined in law as:
'behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more other persons not of the same household as the perpetrator'
Examples of anti-social behaviour can include:
- verbal abuse
- noise nuisance
- criminal damage
- throwing missiles
- underage drinking
- engaging in threatening behaviour in groups
- harassment of residents or passers-by
Tackling anti-social behaviour is not just down to one person or service. Anti-social behaviour affects the whole community. The Police and Cornwall Council rely on the community to report and account for incidents of anti-social behaviour.
You do not have to put up with anti-social behaviour. We, along with our partner agencies, have a range of powers available to us for dealing with anti-social behaviour.
It is important that you report instances of anti-social behaviour.
If either of the following statements apply to you?
- you are experiencing anti-social behaviour as a tenant of a social housing provider
- the person committing anti-social behaviour is a tenant of a social housing provider
If so, you should report any incidents of anti-social behaviour to the relevant housing provider in the first instance. A list can be found on the Safer Cornwall website
Personal accounts or diaries show the repeated nature of anti-social acts. In doing so, they can help to build up consistent evidence about the nature, frequency and severity of anti-social acts. This helps to quantify the effects that anti-social behaviour has on a personal level. It also helps to show the harassment, alarm or distress it causes to individuals. People often feel more comfortable keeping a personal account as opposed to giving a formal statement to the police. However, victim personal statements given to the police are also a powerful form of evidence.
Action against anti-social behaviour takes place under civil law. Victim personal accounts and/or diaries or notes showing repeated anti-social acts are important evidence. These can be used in court as evidence against anyone who is identified as being involved in repeated acts of anti-social behaviour. If the case comes to court, witnesses do not have to give evidence or be identified in court. A professional witness ie. a police officer can be used to relay personal accounts in court on behalf of the witness. Witness protection is an extremely high priority. All measures are taken to protect identity where requested.
Reporting and recording anti-social acts is extremely important. Keeping a diary or log of events is an effective way of evidencing repeated anti-social acts:
- What times do the events occur?
- Who is normally involved?
- What type of behaviour is it?
Please use diary sheets to make relevant, factual notes of what is happening.
Reports of anti-social behaviour should in the first instance go to the police. If you are a tenant of a registered social landlord then you should also log the complaint with them. They have policy and procedures to deal with anti-social behaviour displayed by their tenants.
In the first instance if repeated acts of anti-social behaviour are reported then a warning should be issued to the perpetrator(s). This is normally from the police or social landlord. Warnings should highlight that the behaviour displayed is unacceptable and should cease. If it continues then a second and final warning is issued along with support to address the causes of the behaviour. If reports of anti-social acts are still reported then the last stage is generally some form of legal action. For example:
- anti-social behaviour orders
- demoted tenancy
This is very much the last resort when all other avenues of intervention have been exhausted.
There is an escalation process in dealing with anti-social behavioural issues. However, if the behaviour is of sufficient gravity then it may constitute immediate action as opposed to going through the escalation process.
Most issues can be resolved online, it's the quickest and most convenient way to get help.