BLOG: What is the impact of experiencing ASB on quality of life?

By Dr Becky Thompson, Bethany Ward and Professor Andromachi Tseloni – EMPAC Local and Community Policing network

Dr Becky Thompson on the ASB Risk and Management project

Around 1.8 million incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) were reported to the police in the year ending December 2016 (Office for National Statistics 2017). As such, it routinely constitutes an area of priority for local police forces across England and Wales. However, there is relatively little research regarding the impact of ASB on a victim’s life or the relationship between ASB and crime.

The research by Nottingham Trent University was carried out as part of the East Midlands Policing Academic Collaboration (EMPAC) Police Knowledge Fund, after ASB was identified as an area of regional priority.

Advanced statistical analysis of data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) was used to develop as comprehensive a picture of ASB victimisation as possible. The CSEW is widely considered to be the most comprehensive long-term measure of crime trends available with a sample of approximately 30,000 people every year (for more information click here). Data over a three-year period were analysed (2012 to 2015).

For the purposes of this blog, we’ve chosen to focus upon two of (what we think are) our most interesting findings:

  1. On average, the ASB type that had the greatest reported impact upon daily routine and quality of life was nuisance neighbours, followed by problems with out of control or dangerous dogs; and
  2. Those who had experienced certain types of ASB were more likely to become victims of crime in the same year compared to those who had not experienced ASB.

Nuisance neighbours and out of control dogs

This research involved assessing the impact of a range of different types of ASB upon a victim’s self-reported quality of life and daily routine. As expected, we found impact upon a victim’s life varied by ASB type. Nuisance neighbours and out of control dogs, on average, had the greatest negative impact.

This underlines the importance of taking an ASB-specific approach as frequency, harm and satisfaction with police response varied depending upon the type of ASB considered. As with ‘crime’, the term ‘ASB’ can sometimes therefore be unhelpful.

We also discovered that less than 50% of all ASB incidents recorded by the CSEW came to the knowledge of the police. This may be a reflection of the diverse nature of ASB and the role of different agencies in responding to nuisance neighbour incidents for example (i.e. housing providers and voluntary sector organisations). It may also be a reflection of victims choosing not to report.

Certain ASB victims are more likely to become victims of crime

Those who had experienced ASB were twice as likely to be victims of crime in the same year compared to those who had not experienced ASB. This suggests there was a particularly vulnerable group of individuals who were experiencing both ASB and crime.

Once again, ASB incident type is important here. Experiencing or witnessing drug use, vandalism or criminal damage, intimidating or abusive behaviour and alcohol-related behaviour were found to have a significant relationship with crime victimisation for all three years studied.

By contrast, there were three ASB types which had no significant relationship with crime victimisation: vehicle-related ASB; dangerous or out of control dogs; and homelessness, begging or vagrancy.

Collectively, these findings should assist in more accurately determining the likelihood of experiencing further ASB incidents as well as the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime. They can also be used in the assessment of the degree of potential harm caused by particular incidents. This should allow those most at risk of further victimisation to be identified, with interventions targeted towards those individuals, and their specific risks, to reduce harm.

Future research…

Additional work is continuing to unpick the implications of these findings for organisations tasked with responding to ASB. Additional funding has been obtained from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Secondary Data Analysis Initiative for an 18-month project which will explore:

‘Who experiences or witnesses ASB and in what context?’ (grant number: ES/P001556/1)

The project, led by Dr Rebecca Thompson, alongside Dr James Hunter, Professor Andromachi Tseloni and Professor Nick Tilley, will further develop our understanding of ASB victims, harm and vulnerability with a particular focus upon area-level characteristics. It will lead to the generation of a comprehensive picture of ASB victimisation, having combined data from four different sources. The research will involve working collaboratively with a range of stakeholders, including EMPAC.

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