How to tackle anti-social behaviour before using restorative justice
Anti-social behaviour can be a problem in any neighbourhood, no matter the postcode or demographic of its residents.
From people who make unacceptable levels of noise to verbal abuse and failure to control pets, anti-social behaviour (or ‘ASB’, as it’s often referred to) comes in many forms, but has the ability to make your life extremely uncomfortable in your own home.
Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do to try and tackle the issue before you call on professional help:
If you ever need to approach the police or other relevant authorities about ASB, it’s vital you’re able to give them as much information as you can. This is why it pays to keep records of the exact kind of anti-social behaviour you’re experiencing, from who was involved to where and when it happened.
If your concerns are shared with other neighbours, work together to maintain a set of records that detail your experiences with ASB. If you have CCTV installed at your home, this can be a bonus, but be careful about going ‘all out’ with surveillance equipment, because it might escalate the situation if the offenders think they’re being watched.
When deciding which authority to approach about anti-social behaviour, bear in mind that the responsibilities fall broadly into the following categories:
- motoring offences
- drunk and rowdy behaviour
- criminal damage
- drug use and dealing
- hate crime
- noise issues
- disputes over high hedges
- litter and illegal dumping
- dog fouling, strays and nuisance
- abandoned vehicles
If it’s minor, consider tackling it directly
Not every form of anti-social behaviour will threaten your personal safety.
For instance, if a particular neighbour seems keen on burning rubbish in their front garden every weekend, or if a group of kids are continually using your fence as a makeshift football goal, you may be able to address them directly.
It’s important to do this calmly, and with a positive mindset. After all, the people who are responsible for ASB often have no idea that whatever it is they’re doing is causing such a nuisance.
Kids playing football against your fence, for example, may just need a gentle reminder that they should be a little more careful (but that, equally, you don’t mind them having fun), while the rubbish burner might be completely oblivious and respond well to a friendly, polite chat.
Only tackle scenarios of this kind if you’re confident you’re not putting your own safety at risk. If, for example, the people at the heart of the ASB appear to be acting aggressively or might be under the influence of alcohol, the situation is best tackled by the police. Your personal safety should always be your primary concern.
The professional route: ASB and restorative justice
The restorative justice practice works for many types of crime, but it is particularly well suited to anti-social behaviour.
The idea is to arrange a meeting between the people responsible for the ASB and those who it has affected. An experienced restorative professional oversees this meeting, at which both parties are given the chance to have their say and communicate with each other about what has happened.
Restorative justice is a completely free and voluntary service, but one that can result in very positive outcomes for everyone involved. If you think the anti-social behaviour you’re experiencing might benefit from this approach, it’s certainly worth exploring.
Read more about restorative justice in action with ASB here, and, if you’d like to talk to the friendly team at Voice about using it to tackle an issue in your neighbourhood, please do not hesitate to contact us.