Anti-social behaviour is behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to a person not of the same household.
Anti-social behaviour has a very damaging effect on the community in which it takes place. Where anti-social behaviour is targeted at individuals, or a specific group within a community, the effect on quality of life can be devastating. Although anti-social behaviour is frequently linked to children, adults of all ages can also be responsible.
Our part in tackling anti-social behaviour is to identify when criminal offences have been committed and to prosecute them in the courts, making sure we inform the courts of the impact the offences have on individuals.
Some anti-social behaviour falls short of being a criminal offence and in this case it can be tackled by an application for an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) to a civil, rather than criminal, court. These applications are made by the police or local authority and don't involve the CPS.
However, a lot of anti-social behaviour is in itself a criminal offence (for example, painting offensive slogans on a wall is criminal damage). If the CPS prosecutes for a criminal offence which is part of a wider picture of behaviour which is having an adverse effect on a community or individual we can ask the court, in addition to any other penalty, to impose an ASBO.
ASBOs try to remove or reduce the likelihood of further trouble, for example by barring someone from returning to the area where they have caused problems.
If an ASBO is breached, this is a criminal offence and the CPS is responsible for prosecuting the offender.
The CPS works closely with the police, local authorities, and other partner agencies to identify the best way of stopping anti-social behaviour.
For example, last year a youth - who cannot be named for legal reasons - brought misery to families on the Green Meadow estate in Rochdale by carrying out criminal damage and other offences and then intimidating witnesses.
The CPS, Greater Manchester Police officers and Rochdale Council talked to local people about the evidence that would be needed to bring him to court, about the support that could be provided to them as witnesses, and about the court's powers of sentence. With the confidence that this gave them, the community came forward and together we were able to bring the teenager's campaign of bullying and anti-social behaviour to an end. The youth received a12-month referral order and was ordered to pay his victims a total of £500 in compensation.