Better understanding needed of antisocial behaviour in Hartlepool, say experts

Town bosses have been told everyone needs a better understanding about the ‘scale and impact’ of antisocial behaviour to help tackle the issue, by experts in the field.

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Sunday, 10th November 2019, 3:04 pm
Hartlepool Civic Centre

It came as Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee heard a study on the topic as part of its year long investigation to clamp down on the issue.

Dr James Hunter, Principal Lecturer in Public Policy from Nottingham Trent University, spoke to councillors on findings from his report ‘Anti-Social Behaviour: Living a Nightmare’.

The study was based on a report of Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove, whose husband Garry was murdered by youths on his doorstep in 2007.

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Councillors said they hope Hartlepool can take the lead on tackling the issue.

Coun Ged Hall said: “I hope that Hartlepool can be at the forefront of examining the issues and reporting anti-social behaviour.”

The work was based off the Crime Survey for England and Wales, and asked people to talk about incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB), whether it had been reported or not.

Only 31% of people who had been a victim reported it, according to the findings.

Dr Hunter raised numerous ideas and changes to tackle the issue, including focusing on ‘impact’ rather than hotspots generated by number of reports.

He added that the issue can be broken down into 13 sub-sections, and people dealing with it cannot just take a universal approach.

He said: “Where your ASB hotspots are in Hartlepool are not necessarily where most of the harm is being inflicted, and therefore just concentrating on the hotspots is not tackling the full problem.

“A very large proportion of victimisation we don’t know anything about, so the scale and the impact of ASB identified by the report, there’s an awful lot more households out there experiencing the problem.

“You can’t have a universal approach to tackling it, each of the 13 types, they have different levels of who is experiencing them.

“All the evidence suggests that the first time someone reports ASB whoever is responding to it has got to get it right, generally people’s satisfaction goes down the more times they are let down.

“We don’t know the scale of ASB, we don’t really understand the impact of ASB victimisation in terms of harm, so we need to have conversations.

“It’s just about having that partnership approach. Getting everyone to have a better understanding about the scale and nature and impact of ASB, so then in terms of intervention something better can be done about it.”

He added plans were in place to develop a neighbourhood map which will state based upon who is living in Hartlepool who is more likely to report issues.

He added there are additional ‘risk’ factors for the sort of people who tend to face issues, and there are also ‘protective’ factors which in general mean people are less likely to suffer from it.

The findings found across all types of anti-social behaviour, those with educational qualifications, who live in the same place for 12 months or longer, live in flats or terraced housing and have low income are more likely to face issues.

Meanwhile he said people who are older and live in a ‘none white household’ are in general less likely to face anti-social behaviour.

Councillors said it is important to use the information to tackle anti-social behaviour where they can, and looked at issues such as reporting.

Coun Marjorie James said: “It’s trying to marry that with the knowledge and experience we would share as councillors for the patches we represent.

“In some ways the whole tag of anti-social behaviour is a problem in itself, because it’s for an individual to decide, is this something I can’t tolerate, and the tolerance level is for them to judge.”

Coun Brenda Harrison said: “We haven’t been able to persuade our residents to keep ringing in and that’s because historically they are sick of ringing in and not getting responses.

“I think that a lot of individuals perceive ASB in different ways, so it is difficult to say what is ASB, because it can be so many things.”

As part of the bid to tackle Anti-Social Behaviour councillors are also urging residents to take part in a survey on the issue at https://www.hartlepool.gov.uk/anti-social-behaviour-survey.

To date more than 115 responses have been received from residents, according to council officers.