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Anti-social behaviour



Anti-social behaviour is defined in the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) as acting ‘in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator.’ This definition includes low-level public order offences and other offences which are notifiable crimes and therefore beyond the remit of National Incident Standard Recording and Assessment (NSIRA).

A more appropriate definition of anti-social behaviour for the purposes of incident recording is provided by the Housing Act (1996): ‘Engaging in or threatening to engage in conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to persons engaged in lawful activities’.


  •  ‘Personal’ is designed to identify incidents that are deliberately targeted at a particular individual or specific group or aimed at having an impact on a particular individual or specific group rather than the community at large;
  •  ‘Nuisance’ captures those incidents where an individual or group causes trouble, annoyance, inconvenience, offence or suffering to people in the local community in general rather than being deliberately targeted at specific individuals or groups; and
  • ‘Environmental’ deals with the interface between people and places. It includes incidents and inconsiderate actions which have an impact on the surroundings including the natural, built and social environments. This category is about encouraging reasonable behaviour whilst managing and protecting various environments so that people can enjoy their own private spaces as well as shared or public spaces. 


Bedford Borough Community Safety Partnership (CSP) is a joint partnership between the Responsible Authorities consisting of Bedford Borough Council, Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Bedfordshire Probation Trust and Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group who work together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour that affects our communities.  These agencies have a duty to come together and work with other groups, organisations and agencies to prevent crime and disorder.  The CSP was formed in response to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as a statutory requirement.


The Act also requires each CSP Strategy Group of Responsible Authorities to produce an annual Crime and Disorder Strategic Assessment to identify key crime and disorder issues that affect Bedford Borough. 


A CSP Strategic Assessment was carried out in October 2015 where ASB was identified as one of five emerging themes. This is a continuation from the previous year’s assessment and ASB has been adopted as a CSP priority within the CSP plan 2014-17.


Links to the current CSP Strategic Assessment and CSP plan can be found at the end of this chapter.


Facts. figures and trends


The Borough has a population of 163,900 (2014) which has grown by approximately 11% since 2001.  Much of that growth has occurred in the rural parishes bordering the urban area where there are several major residential developments underway, including the large new community of Wixams.


n the period Oct 2014 to Sep 2015, Bedfordshire Police received 6298 reported incidents of ASB. This compares to 5322 incidents in the same period in the previous year, an increase of 18.3% (976 Incidents).


  • 73.8% of the increase between 2013/14 and 2014/15 can be attributed to Nuisance ASB.
  • Whilst reports of Personal ASB increased overall by 171 incidents, reductions were achieved in the areas of both high and medium risk.
  • ASB is also reported directly to the Council through the Borough’s Council dedicated ASB Officer within the Community Safety Team. The period Oct 14 – Sep 15 saw a 61.5% increase in new cases in the same period.


ASB is also reported directly to the Council through the Borough’s Council dedicated ASB Officer within the Community Safety Team. The period Oct 14 – Sep 15 saw a 61.5% increase in new cases in the same period.

A change in recording standards introduced by Bedfordshire Police in September 2014 may be one factor that has led to the increase, this hypothesis is supported by the disproportionate increase in low level nuisance ASB which would previously not have been recorded, whilst levels of high and medium risk incidents reduced.


Increased community awareness and confidence may also be responsible for the higher rate of incidents. Partnership events such as Community Impact Days and police led Operation Vision events have focused heavily on ASB over the last 12 months.

ASB reporting tends to follow a distinctive pattern with increased reporting through the lighter and warmer months, and around school holidays. This pattern is consistent with analysis undertaken in previous assessments.

  • 45.3% of all reported ASB took place between 15:00 – 22:00
  • 32.6% of ASB incidents were reported on a Saturday or Sunday


Within the 3 broad categories ASB can be subdivided into more meaningful classifications that give details about the nature of the event. Each incident is allocated the classification that best describes the event but it must be accepted that on occasions more than one issue may be present. It is therefore down to the call handler to allocate the most applicable class to each incident.


Over the 12 months incidents were divided into 45 classifications, the table below shows the top 5 recorded in the period. These 5 classifications account for over 75% of all ASB in the Borough

All ASB - Initial Class  (top 5)


% Total

Rowdy or Inconsiderate Behaviour



Vehicle Nuisance



Abandoned Vehicle Not Stolen



Nuisance Neighbour



Noise Complaint







A number of markers are attached to the incident to give further details about the individuals involved. More than one marker can be applied to an incident.


  • 16.5% of ASB incidents have a marker that indicates the event is Youth Related, 1036 in the period.
  • 13.6% of ASB incidents have a marker that indicates the event was Alcohol Related, 853 for the period


Youth and alcohol related ASB are looked at in more detail within the CSP Strategic Assessment. Links to this document are at the end of this chapter.

All the top 5 wards for total ASB are Urban. Castle ward, which includes Bedford Town Centre, accounts for 18.57% of all ASB and the top five collectively just under half of all the ASB incident reports received by the police in the year. These five areas are consistent with last year’s report.


ASB by Ward (top 5)


% Total

Castle Ward



Cauldwell Ward



Harpur Ward



Goldington Ward



Kingsbrook Ward















Local Views

In a a recent Community Consultation exercise, 72% of residents identified that crime and anti-social behaviour in the Borough had "Stayed the same" or "improved".  This is an increase on the results of the previous year (66%), 19% identifying that it had got worse (9% replied with no opinion or don't know).


"Thinking about your local area, 15-20 minutes walk from where you live, how has crime and anti-social behaviour changed over the past year?"



Within the same consultation exercise, 71% of recipients listed ASB as one of their top three community safety issues. This was the highest scoring issue identified in the survey.

All cases of ASB managed by the Borough’s ASB Officer were regularly risk assessed. In the period Oct 2014 – Sep 2015, 100% of cases assessed as high, medium and low risk categories recorded a reduction in risk in a 6 month period.


Current activities and Services

Day to day reports are mostly dealt with through the police using the 101 system. In addition to this there is an option to contact Council services including councillors, the ASB team, Environmental Health team, rubbish or fly tipping ‘on line’ or via the Council’s Contact Centre. Communities can also contact a range of voluntary organisations for help and support and access their details via the ‘on line’ family support database.


Victims of ASB can also seek advice about issues with their GP or other health support services.


Anti-Social Behaviour Management Group


The ASB Management Group (ASBMG) operates as a risk assessment conference where agencies can discuss and share information relating to specific higher risk victims of ASB. The group has been operating in the Borough since July 2012, with 108 cases discussed to date. In the period Oct 2014 – Sep 2015, 27 cases have been brought to the group which is an increase from the previous year (22).


The ASBMG membership includes members from Adult and Child Safeguarding to ensure that appropriate referrals are made using both Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults (SOVA) and Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) practice and procedures where needed. A proportion of victims and offenders on the ASBMG caseload demonstrate signs of having health (including mental health) needs and by using the SOVA route into Health Services the relevant checks can be made and needs assessed.


The group aims to reduce the risk of harm for each victim and offers the support of a Vulnerable Victim Caseworker to help victims cope with some of the issues. The type of support offered includes practical and emotional help including making appointments with their GP, CAB, drug & alcohol services, accommodation services or just listening and advising, keeping them updated with a case and offering mediation with neighbours if needed. 


Cases referred to the ASB Management Group suggest that very few high risk victims are targeted by youths specifically, whereas geographic areas experience elevated levels of incidents.  This suggests youth related disorder is focused in specific areas rather than against specific individuals.


Victim Support ASB Vulnerable Victims Worker


This is a dedicated role that is based within the Community Safety Team at the Borough to offer practical and emotional support to victims of ASB. The service looks to support victims of repeat offences, individuals with learning disabilities and mental health needs.

In the period between Oct 2014 and Sep 2015 the case worker opened 42 cases, an increase of 68% on the previous year.


National & Local Strategies


The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought significant changes to the way local authorities can respond to anti-social behaviour (ASB), introducing new tools and powers to replace existing provisions, including the introduction of ASB case reviews, also known as the ‘community trigger’.


Results from the Crime Survey for England and Wales 2014 suggest that 28% of the population have experienced ASB in their local area. Applied to the Borough’s population this would be 45,892 people. However what is understood by the term ASB can be confusing. Often the boundaries between crime and disorder are not clear to the victim.


What is this telling us?

  • Older people (particularly women) are more likely to worry about ASB and crime. Between 2001 and 2014, the Borough’s population aged 85+ increased by 45% and is projected to increase by a further 32% between 2014 and 2021 compared to 7% across the total population.
  • There are specific locations where ASB levels are consistently higher. These include the Town Centre and Castle, Harpur, Goldington and Kingsbrook Wards. The CSP will concentrate its community engagement in these areas.
  • 16.5% of ASB incidents are recorded as being youth related and 13.6% involving alcohol (but not together). The CSP Strategic Assessment suggests that youth related disorder is focused in specific areas rather than against specific individuals and is not as prominent as ASB committed by adults. The Town Centre is a focus for ASB in relation to the night time economy and alcohol related ASB and crime. The delivery of the Alcohol Strategy is helping to tackle alcohol related issues and has a dedicated group in place to address Street Drinking.
  • The level of victim vulnerability reduces when 1 to 1 support is given such as attending appointments, filling out forms, talking on the phone, and signposting to other support agencies. Work with Victim Support to sustain this service over 2015 - 2016 will be progressed.


What are the key inequalities?


Using data from a survey of 10,000 victims of anti-social behaviour, carried out in 2012, a research team led by Professor Martin Innes (Director of UPSI and Deputy Director at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences) has profiled victims’ vulnerabilities in order to better understand how, why and where certain disorder incidents occur, and their effects on the individuals targeted.

The research found that the risk of harm for ASB victims depended upon three factors: the nature of the ASB and whether it was personally targeted, victim personal characteristics such as their health, and the make-up of their local area. 

National research identifies that individuals with physical disabilities and those with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of ASB



See Bedford CSP Strategic Assessment 2015:




This chapter links to the following chapters in the JSNA:



Personal, Situational and Incidental Vulnerabilities to ASB Harm: a follow up study.

Dr Helen Innes & Professor Martin Innes - A report to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, January 2013 (available at: http://www.hmic.gov.uk/publication/personal-situational-and-incidental-vulnerabilities-to-anti-social-behaviour-harm-a-follow-up-study/ last accessed 20 January 2013)

Follow the Bedford Borough Council Website link below for the following documents:

  • Bedford Community Safety Plan 2014 – 2017
  • Bedford CSP Community Survey Results 2013
  • Bedford Borough Anti-Social Behaviour Policy
  • Bedford CSP Strategic Assessment 2015
  • Bedford Borough Alcohol Strategy


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