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Anti-social behaviour and nuisance

One of the biggest problems affecting communities in Cornwall is anti-social behaviour, covering malicious, thoughtless and inconsiderate activity which has the potential to blight community life.

Every week new acts of anti-social behaviour are reported, but for all those reports far more remain unreported with people 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, vandalism, joyriding, noise nuisance, criminal damage, assault, throwing missiles, underage drinking, engaging in threatening behaviour in groups or harassment of residents or passers-by.  

Tackling anti-social behaviour is not just down to one person or service. Anti-social behaviour affects the community and so agencies such as the Police and 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.

Report anti-social behaviour to the Council

Report anti-social behaviour to the Police

In showing the repeated nature of anti-social acts, personal accounts or diaries help to build up consistent evidence about the nature, frequency and severity of anti-social acts. It helps to quantify the effects that anti-social behaviour has on a personal level and 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, although victim personal statements to the police are again a powerful form of evidence.

How important are personal accounts?

Action against anti-social behaviour takes place under civil law. This means that important evidence like victim personal accounts and/or diaries or notes showing repeated anti-social behaviour acts, 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 and all measures are taken to protect identity where requested.

What you can do now

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.

What happens when a report of anti-social behaviour is made?

Reports of anti-social behaviour should in the first instance go to the police, but if you are a tenant of a registered social landlord then you should also log the complaint with them as 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) normally from the police or social landlord, highlighting the behaviour that is displayed is unacceptable and should cease. If the anti-social behaviour 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 i.e.; Anti-social behaviour order's, demoted tenancy etc. This is very much the last resort when all other avenues of intervention have been exhausted.

Please note that although there is an escalation process in dealing with anti-social behavioural issues, if the behaviour is of sufficient gravity then it may constitute immediate action as opposed to going through the escalation process.

If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour and you are a tenant of a social housing provider, or the person committing anti-social behaviour is a tenant of a social housing provider, you should in the first instance report any incidents of anti-social behaviour to the relevant housing provider. A list can be found on the Safer Cornwall website