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Don’t put up with antisocial behaviour

When I asked residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to choose which three policing issues, from a list of 22, mattered most to them antisocial behaviour came out top.

Don’t put up with antisocial behaviour

Staff from Plymouth neighbourhood policing team and Plymouth council at last year's awareness week organised by Safer Plymouth

Given the broad spectrum of activity that is captured by the term ‘antisocial behaviour’ perhaps it should be no surprise that it featured so highly on a list of your concerns, and was therefore made one of my Police and Crime Plan priorities.

At one end of the scale ASB can be mildly irritating, like someone who lets their dog bark at all hours of the day or night or who lights a bonfire on a sunny evening, at the more extreme end it can be extremely serious, like targeted, intimidating harassment. The worst cases have escalated to the point where murders have occurred.

The charity ASB Help has given advice to my office and Devon and Cornwall Police on the impact ASB can have on communities. Persistent ASB can have devastating effects on its victims, who can feel persecuted in their own homes to the point where their mental health suffers severely. It’s a serious issue and something I want partners across our force area focussed on tackling.

Fortunately there is much that can be done, and in Antisocial Behaviour Awareness Week, which started on Monday (July 3) and runs to Sunday (July 9), my team will be out and about with local authority partners to give advice in two towns where ASB complaints are higher than average.

Plymouth, Barnstaple, Truro and Torbay were in receipt of funding in the latest round of Safer Streets funding, Home Office money to help build safer communities. This cash is being spent of myriad projects. For example, in Barnstaple, which got £348,632 from the Home Office, supplemented by £179,126 of additional funding from North Devon Council and my office, a new team consisting of Street Marshals, antisocial behaviour (ASB) and CCTV officers, Community Environment Officers and the police neighbourhood team is providing a multi-agency, high-profile presence in the town centre.

Plymouth’s focus has been on improving feelings of safety for women and girls. Funded by Safer Streets 4, we are leading a project to make tactical, visible environmental improvements across Plymouth, using referrals from the Police or local councillors (on behalf of residents) to improve feelings of safety in hotspots. These may be simple changes such as trimming back trees to improve the lighting in dark walkways or improving the appearance of areas that have become run down.

One of the difficulties about ASB is the fact that people aren’t sure who to contact about it. Cornwall, Torbay and Plymouth councils are unitary and have antisocial behaviour teams who can help with many issues. In Devon outside Torbay these teams are at district council level. If the behaviour is criminal, then it may be worth contacting the police via the 101 non-emergency service or 999 if a crime is in progress or someone’s safety is at immediate risk.

If you have reported an ASB issue more than three times in a six-month period and are not satisfied with the response then an ASB case review may be the solution. Formerly known as a ‘community trigger’ the aim is to give victims and communities the right to request a review of their case and to bring agencies together to take a joined up, problem solving approach to finding a solution.

This year I have commissioned a new service to offer advice, help and support to victims of antisocial behaviour, this can be accessed via the police if you have reported it to the force, or Victim Support if you have not reported an incident to police.

To report ASB visit the Devon and Cornwall Police website and search for antisocial behaviour. If you need help and advice on the ASB case review this is explained in detail on my website at

Victim Support can be contacted via its website or by calling 08 08 16 89 111.