Reducing anti-social behaviour through co-operative working – Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council

Posted on 21st May, 2014

In response to increasing complaints about anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Silverdale, partners[1] identified more than 25 young people who were involved in ASB in and around a local shopping parade. Quality of life for some residents was being affected by groups of teenagers shouting, swearing, fighting and causing damage.

Officers from the Borough Council and Police carried out visits to the homes of the individuals identified to inform parents/guardians of this behaviour and took action via Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and restorative justice projects. In addition, consultation with young people in the area revealed they wanted to partake in activities that could deter them from engaging in problem behaviour. As a result, the council worked with the agencies highlighted above to identify opportunities for diversionary activities.

An eight week programme of sessions was made available to these young people at no cost to the organisations involved or the younger people themselves. The local college, Sporting Ventures (a Community Interest Company), Wolves Academy and the County Council worked together to provide sessions that tackled issues such as anger management and health and fitness. In addition, the main ASB perpetrators have undertaken a restorative justice project working with local older people. The project helped to break down generational barriers and change perceptions between the two groups. It also gave young people chance to learn about their local heritage.

Reassurance visits from the council’s anti-social behaviour officer and the police have been made to local residents who were affected by ASB. Residents were made aware of positive enforcement action taken against certain individuals, not to criminalise younger people but instead aimed at educating and diverting them into positive activities. Residents have also been provided with security equipment for themselves and their homes.

As a result of this initiative, levels of reported ASB have decreased dramatically and residents have reported a greater confidence in the work done by partners to reduce ASB and the distress it causes. There is also increased confidence amongst partners who are able to appreciate the benefits of early intervention as a way to improve outcomes for the local community whilst saving money and building solid working relationships with other stakeholders.

Working as a partnership to resolve not just ASB but a whole host of other community safety issues is key. The approach not only reduces costs for partners but builds confidence in the local community so that they feel empowered to deal with their own issues. Newcastle Borough Council promotes restorative justice as a way of working through early intervention and prevention and promotes community spirit in a way that is visible and sustainable. The work undertaken in Silverdale has already lead to other, similar projects in other areas across the Borough.

[1] The partners involved included:

Staffordshire Police, Aspire Housing, Sporting Ventures, Local businesses, Sporting Communities, Housing Associations, Youth Services, Local Support Team, Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle College. Local Schools, The local community, residents and businesses, and the Volunteering Sector.

To discuss the case study, please get in touch with cooperative advocate Phil Jones, Head of Communications, who can be reached at: phil.jones@newcastle-staffs.gov.uk