Anti-social behaviour can blight neighbourhoods.
Whether vandalism, noise, fly-tipping or tearing around on quad bikes, it can have a detrimental effect upon people’s quality of life.
This week, the issue come into sharp focus during Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour Together Week, a joint initiative between Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and housing provider Incommunities, to crackdown on crime and nuisance.
"The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness of anti-social behaviour issues and offer opportunities for members of the community to see how we, and our partners, can help them,” says Chief Inspector Damien Miller of Bradford district police. “We are letting people know who they can contact and what can be done.”
Team meetings between partners are held in each ward every six weeks to discuss local issues such as off-road motor cycling, vandalism, street drinking, fly-tipping and dog fouling.
“Rather than look at issues in Bradford as a whole, which can become quite watered down, we concentrate on communities,” says CI Miller, “Each area does not suffer the same problems and we want to tackle these within the community. Some - such as off-road motorcycling, span different wards, but others, like street drinking, affect specific areas.”
From this week off-road biking is being addressed by a special team dedicated to the problem. “We have already had success in removing bikes and made arrests, and this will strengthen that,” says CI Miller.
Leaflets are also being distributed, giving details of how to report incident on a 24-hour phone line where messages can be left in confidence.
“Some people do not know who to contact when there is a problem, and others may know the offender so don't want to give their names. This provides a means of reporting incidents.”
This can also help the police to pinpoint hotspots where activities are taking place. “Patrols are hotspot specific,” says CI Miller. “every week we have a tactical assessment, looking at issues within each Neighbourhood Policing Team and adjust our patrols accordingly.”
Incommunities works with the police by taking action against tenants who are involved in anti-social behaviour. The police anti-social behaviour team can implement powers, such as contracts, fixed penalty notices or, if all else fails, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). In some cases, fines and prison sentences can be imposed.
A growing number of people are keeping abreast of reports and police activity in their communities through websites such as Facebook and Twitter, which also offer information on contact points. “We let people know what we are doing within their community,” says CI Miller.
Deputy leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Imran Hussain, says: "We recognise the impact that anti-social behaviour can have on people's lives and we work hard with our partners and local people to tackle this as a priority."
In previous years the week has been found to be very effective. He adds: "There are many different strands to how we tackle anti-social behaviour. One of the key areas is raising awareness among young people. That is a particular focus in schools.”
Summer camps run by West Yorkshire Police in conjunction with Bradford College provide young people aged between nine and 15 something to do during the summer holidays, as low level crime and anti-social behaviour tends to peak during these periods.
Last year around 500 attended the camps, at Bradford College, with youngsters taking part in sports including rock climbing and abseiling, as well as cooking, dance sessions and the chance to engage with police officers and members of other emergency services.
”They have been really successful,” says Coun Hussain. “We thrive on our partnerships - initiatives like the summer camps and anti-social behaviour week show how strong they are. We have the same aims and are never complacent."
During the week a new initiative Be Neighbourly is being launched, encouraging people in their locality to get to know each other and help each other out. “This could be through coffee mornings and other community events,” says Coun Hussain. “We want to encourage people to help others with tasks like shopping or clearing snow in winter. People could make sure their neighbours are not suffering any difficulties.”
The initiative also urges people to joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, all adding to better, closer-knit communities. This can help in combating issues such as anti-social behaviour, with people looking out for each other and striving for a better neighbourhood. Adds Coun Hussain: "Everyone deserves to have a good quality of life in the area they live in, and this week highlights the efforts we make every day to allow people to live in a safe and clean environment."