The Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said residents’ voices must continue to be heard as a vital project in Surrey to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) moves into its next phase.
Earlier this year around 2,000 Surrey residents completed a survey giving their views on ASB as part of a project being supported by partners across the county to strengthen the response that communities receive.
That data is now being drawn together with the outcome of a number of focus groups being held to help agencies develop plans to work together to target actions where they are needed the most.
To mark the start of Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week, the Commissioner is throwing a spotlight on the issue which can take many forms, ranging from rowdy behaviour to neighbourhood disputes and criminal damage.
Over a third of those who responded to the survey said that anti-social driving, littering and anti-social parking were among top concerns where they live. The survey revealed that drug use and dealing, inconsiderate dog ownership, groups hanging around and vandalism were also key issues.
Reducing ASB is the key priority for Surrey’s Anti-Social Behaviour and Community Harm Reduction Partnership Delivery Group that includes the Commissioner’s office, Surrey Police, Surrey County Council, local councils, health, housing and support services.
The survey response has helped the Partnership build a fresh picture of the challenges faced in communities across the county which will help shape plans to tackle the problem going forward.
An average of 49% of residents reported that ASB where they lived had got worse in the previous 12 months – with the vast majority saying they would contact the police in the first instance, followed by their local council.
Over 200 people who completed the survey also expressed their interest in joining in-person focus groups to provide more information on ASB in their area.
In June, workshops independently carried out by ASB Help were commissioned by the Commissioner’s office to ensure that personal experiences were captured in the plans that will be developed by the Partnership this year.
Building on an ‘outstanding’ rating for preventing crime and anti-social behaviour received by Surrey Police in an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) last year, Commissioner Lisa Townsend said the work was vital to ensure individuals affected by ASB were kept at the heart of a response by partners working together:
She said: “Whenever I speak to residents across the county, anti-social behaviour is one of those topics that regularly causes concern in our communities.
“Whilst ASB can often be regarded as a low-level crime – we know that the impact on people’s physical and mental health can be enormous.
“I’m proud of the partnership work that my office and Surrey Police are supporting to address the root causes of anti-social behaviour in Surrey. But the reality is that ASB can cause misery for those on the receiving end, making it essential that we continue to listen to our communities and work together to improve the response that our residents receive.
“Every experience of ASB is different and understanding the bigger picture behind persistent cases of ASB is important to address related concerns that range from health and environmental issues, to the risk of violence or ‘hidden’ crimes that can include hate and exploitation.
“I’m incredibly grateful to every person who has taken part in our survey and focus groups that will inform the progress of the whole Partnership in this area over the next year.”
Joanna Grimshaw, Head of ASB and Partnerships at Surrey Police, added: “As a partnership we are currently looking at how we can improve our support for victims of ASB. We want to make sure that police and partners recognise the harm caused by ASB and do not see it as low-level incidents that happen in isolation.
“The survey and focus groups will help us to hear the victims voice and shape our victim support offer in the future. I would also encourage victims or witnesses to report ASB to the appropriate agency.”
Information on how to report anti-social behaviour or access help with persistent ASB can be found at https://www.healthysurrey.org.uk/community-safety/asb
Mediation Surrey provide a dedicated mediation service that provides a listening ear and supports individuals to access further help.
Rowdy and nuisance behaviour, drug use, anti-social use of vehicles, anti-social drinking and criminal damage are examples of ASB that should be reported to the police.
Contact Surrey Police on 101, via Surrey Police social media channels or at https://surrey.police.uk. Always dial 999 in an emergency.