‘Majority of reported anti-social behaviour is committed by adults rather than young people’: Council chiefs say children are wrongly stigmatised

Community safety bosses have defended perceptions of children in the town as statistics show two-thirds of anti-social behaviour is committed by adults.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 2:39 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 2:43 pm
Hartlepool Borough Council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher

Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said many young people are being ‘stigmatised’ and the perception they are being given is different to reality.

Figures presented by the Safer Hartlepool Partnership showed anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool decreased from 7,059 incidents in 2017 to 5,844 in 2018, a drop of 1,215, which equates to around 17%.

The meeting was held at Hartlepool Civic Centre

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Youth-related anti-social behaviour incidents, which officers said made up just a third of reports to the police, reduced from 2,621 in 2017 to 1,792 incidents in 2018, a drop of almost 32%.

Coun Akers-Belcher, speaking at the latest Safer Hartlepool Partnership meeting, said: “I did an interview recently with some pupils at High Tunstall and the perception of what they get told is that children are responsible for anti-social behaviour.

“I think they were a bit surprised when I said actually two-thirds of anti-social behaviour was adults.

“I think what people tell our children and young people is very different to reality.

“We need to get that message out there because I think our children and young people are being stigmatised and told that they are responsible for anti-social behaviour.”

In total during 2018, an average of 487 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported to police each month involving people of all ages, a reduction from 589 per month in 2017.

Nuisance anti-social behaviour was the most commonly reported type of incident, making up 66% of reports, which are classed as incidents which do not have a specific target but affect the wider community.

Kate Ainger, research officer at Hartlepool Community Safety Team, detailed the findings and said anti-social behaviour incidents peaked in May and July.

She said many of these reports related to incidents in York Road, particularly people ‘fighting around takeaways’ at night.

She also noted street drinkers congregating in the area around the ramp leading to the shopping centre and causing a nuisance to passers-by and nearby businesses during the day was also an issue.

Her report also noted the perception of total anti-social behaviour differs from statistics, which people believe is increasing.

She said: “Analysis continues to identify the majority of reported anti-social behaviour is committed by adults rather than young people.

“Consistent with previous years adult related anti-social behaviour equates to two third of all recorded incidents.

“There is a discrepancy between the level of problems in the community and people’s perception of them, particularity in relation to anti-social behaviour.

“Survey responses received so far felt strongly that anti-social behaviour in Hartlepool is getting worse, which was echoed by some of the attendees that came to the recent face the public event.

“However the evidence is that the picture is improving, with fewer incidents and more effective action being taken against the perpetrators.”

She added improved communication would be added as a target for the Safer Hartlepool Partnership going forward to address this.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service