Tackling anti-social behaviour : a critical review

Over the past decade, anti-social behaviour (henceforth referred to as ASB) has become a focus of much policy-making and debate within central and local government and the police. Clear definitions of ASB are lacking, but the term is usually understood to refer to relatively minor criminal activity and non-criminal ‘nuisance’ behaviour that affects the social and/or physical environment of public or semi-public places. The term ASB is frequently used synonymously with ‘disorder’, and is sometimes associated with the concept of ‘incivilities’. Policy-makers and strategists, at national and local levels alike, reiterate that problems of ASB can have a massively detrimental effect on neighbourhoods as a whole, and on the lives of individuals. Hence strenuous and wide-ranging efforts are being made to support, develop and implement schemes for tackling ASB – involving a variety of enforcement and preventive measures.