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  1. ITV Report

Report says anti-social behaviour is being played down or ignored

Baroness Newlove Photo: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

The Victims' Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, says the system is failing those affected by anti-social behaviour.

Her husband Garry was killed outside his home in Warrington after confronting vandals in 2007.

Baroness Newlove says 'depressingly little' has changed in official attitudes since then.

"It seems implausible that, 12 years later, here I am still raising the issue of anti-social behaviour.

"The feedback from victims is that, all too often, they feel they are being persistently targeted by their perpetrators, and yet persistently ignored by those with the power to prevent and intervene.

"For many victims, their experience can be like living a nightmare."

– Baroness Newlove
Garry Newlove died after he was attacked outside his home in Warrington. Credit: Cheshire Police

Produced in partnership with charity ASB Help and Nottingham Trent University, the Commissioner's report:

  • Cited analysis suggesting that street drinking or drunken behaviour is the most common form of ASB experienced or witnessed, followed by "groups hanging around".
  • Found that a mechanism known as the "community trigger" - introduced to act as a "safety net" for ASB victims - is "largely unknown", even among those working in frontline agencies;
  • Said victims are passed from one agency to another, face lengthy delays when calling the 101 police non-emergency number, and often feel the needs of perpetrators are given more weight than their own;
  • And warned that the "cumulative" effect of anti-social behaviour is often not taken into account, resulting in authorities failing to appreciate the scale of the impact on those affected.

The assessment said anti-social behaviour can cause "immense distress and suffering" for victims, affecting their health, sleep, work and relationships, and leaving them feeling unsafe in their own home.

Calling for "systemic change", Baroness Newlove said she found it "infuriating" to hear anti-social behaviour referred to as "low-level crime".

She said: "That description illustrates very neatly how ASB is often treated as a series of isolated incidents, rather than taking into account the cumulative effect that it has on its victims."

Setting out her blueprint for improving the response, the outgoing Commissioner called for those repeatedly affected by anti-social behaviour to be given the same entitlement to support as other crime victims.

She also recommended a review of the 101 phone line to ensure it is "fit for purpose".

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "Councils know people look to them to tackle the anti-social behaviour which can make a law-abiding resident's life hell or blight an entire neighbourhood.

"It's a role they take extremely seriously but one which is being made increasingly challenging as a result of losing 60p out of every £1 they had from government to spend on services in the past decade."

National police lead for anti-social behaviour Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: "We are working with local authorities and other agencies to effectively combat ASB and empower victims and communities."

He added that further long-term funding is needed as forces are "under increasing strain as they deal with rising crime, demand that is more complex and a raised terror threat with fewer officers".

A Government spokesman said it is "committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring victims get the response they deserve".

He added: "That is why we reformed powers available to the police, local authorities and others to tackle anti-social behaviour and continue to keep them under review.