ANTI-social behaviour across Essex has fallen over the past year by almost a quarter.
We recorded 40,965 incidents of anti-social behaviour between 1 January and 31 December 2021, a drop of 23.6% compared with the previous 12 months.
Superintendent Richard Melton says that during the past decade, anti-social behaviour incidents reported to us have been decreasing.
He says: “The numbers continue to fall and last year showed a steep drop compared with 2020. While that can partly be attributed to the fact that breaches of public health regulations during the first year of the pandemic were recorded as anti-social behaviour, it also reflects the hard work our community policing teams have put in to address issues locally.
“To maintain this downward trend, we need the public’s help to tell us about issues they are experiencing. And we will continue working with our partners to find solutions which not only benefit communities affected by anti-social behaviour but divert the behaviour of those causing it.
“We take anti-social behaviour very seriously. It is not just nuisance behaviour, it can severely impact on victims and make their lives a misery so our focus is not just on dealing with the anti-social behaviour but on supporting victims and dealing with those responsible.
“While some of it will be down to people deliberately causing problems, there may be others who are unaware their behaviour is seen as intimidating or disruptive so our officers will try to address this directly by pointing it out to them.
“Meanwhile, our teams will continue working with partners to find solutions which not only benefit communities affected by anti-social behaviour but divert the behaviour of those causing it.
“This may include dispersal orders or closure orders for properties or simply referring or signposting individuals to organisations which can help them if they are vulnerable and support them if they need help to change their behaviour.”
Other tools and powers available to our officers include anti-social behaviour injunctions, community protection warnings and notices, criminal behaviour orders and public spaces protection orders.
Officers from Chelmsford Community Policing Team recently shut down a property in the city being used as a brothel after multiple late-night takeaway deliveries were reported. They investigated and not only solved the problem but also were able to safeguard several potentially vulnerable people.
High visibility patrols in Jaywick with the local district councillor and working with the Jaywick Sands Community Forum and the Jaywick & Resource Centre has resulted in both a drop in anti-social behaviour and in serious violent crime in the area. It’s a case of listening to the issues and then working together to solve them, say local officers.
In Braintree, PCSO Lorraine Keating is a member of the town’s community police team, who work to solve a variety of anti-social issues by using their extensive and local knowledge and connections.
Lorraine explains it’s a case of finding the cause of the problem rather than dealing with the result.
“Recently, we had an issue in Braintree town centre with local drug-takers hanging around. I found out where they were getting their methadone prescriptions from.
“Normally they get their prescriptions daily but, because of the pandemic, they’d been given a week’s worth at a time. This was causing a lot of problems, so I arranged with the pharmacy to start issuing them with daily prescriptions again.”
She keeps in regular contact with shop managers, businesses and head teachers so that if a particular issue is identified it can be dealt with swiftly.
Uttlesford, with its predominantly rural population, experiences different issues. There, the community policing team works with The Council for Voluntary Services Uttlesford and the district council, among others.
CVSU has a horsebox café and our police officers and police community support officers attend various locations in small villages and hamlets with the volunteers who run it. This was paused during lockdown but then began again last summer.
PC Glenn Braden explains: “They provide free drinks and we engage with the local communities.
“We also go out with the benefits and maintenance teams and housing officers from Uttlesford District Council. We offer crime prevention advice and, if someone needs something fixing, that will be done or, if we identify someone who has been struggling with isolation, they can make the necessary referrals.
“It lets our rural communities know we are still here for them because they can feel isolated.”
Officers also regularly speak to farmers and landowners about specific issues they face, providing advice about hare coursing and local byways issues, and to talk to them about Farm and Rural Watch [LINK] and other support available.
In Grays, our Town Centre Team also worked hard when we came out of lockdown last summer to ensure that anti-social behaviour remained low.
They renewed contacts with shopkeepers and asked them to share CCTV footage and got to know young people who were being disruptive so they could identify them, working closely with Thurrock Council teams and British Transport Police.
Then letters were sent to parents of young people identified as causing antisocial behaviour to try to get the parents involved in solving the problem, rather than criminalising their children.
As PC Stuart Mackinnon says: “They just need a bit of a reality check so, hopefully, with a bit of engagement from us, we’ll get that turned round.”
Tell us what you know
Anti-social behaviour can affect not just individuals but entire communities, too. If you’re experiencing anti-social behaviour or you see or hear about anti-social behaviour issues, we want you to report it to us so that we can work with our community partners to resolve community issues.
You can report incidents of anti-social behaviour on our website via Live Chat – open from 7am-11pm every day – or by completing an online report. [LINK] You can also ring 101.
If you’ve been a victim of anti-social behaviour, or any crime, and are feeling mentally impacted by it, contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111.