What is antisocial behaviour?

The advice on these pages is geared towards people who are having a problem with antisocial behaviour in the area they live in.

Antisocial behaviour and the law

The law says that someone is behaving in an antisocial manner if:

  • they are acting in a manner that is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm or distress, or
  • they are doing several things over a period of time that cause, or are likely to cause, alarm or distress to at least one person living in another household.

Whatever the problem is, it has to have happened more than once to at least one person. If it's an isolated incident, it won't count as antisocial behaviour, although there may be other solutions to the problems you are facing.

Examples of antisocial behaviour

Here are some examples of things that could be classed as antisocial behaviour under the law:

  • noisy neighbours
  • graffiti
  • drinking or drug use which leads to people being rowdy and causing trouble
  • large groups hanging about in the street (if they are causing, or likely to cause, alarm and distress)
  • litter problems
  • racism.

These are just some examples and it's important to realise that, just because the problems you are having aren't included in this list of examples, it doesn't mean that you can't do something about it.

Solutions to antisocial behaviour

If you are a victim of antisocial behaviour, there are lots of things you can do to try and sort it out and it won't be necessary to rely on the law in all cases. The action you take really depends on how bad the problem is and what, if anything, you have previously tried to do about it. The page on dealing with antisocial behaviour has practical advice on where to start.

In some cases, it might be possible for your local council to negotiate an acceptable behaviour contract with the person, or people, causing the problem.

If complaints have continued and other measures have been tried but the antisocial behaviour has still not stopped, it might be possible to get an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) against the person, or people, causing the problem.

If you have been the victim of a crime or if you are in danger, you should contact the police as soon as possible. You can also contact Crimestoppers to report a crime or give information anonymously.

If the person causing the problem rents from a private landlord, your local council can make sure that the landlord takes some responsibility for resolving the problem.

Find out more about private landlords and antisocial behaviour.

The important points

  • Antisocial behaviour is when someone is acting in a manner that is causing, or is likely to cause alarm or distress.
  • The behaviour has to have happen more than once.
  • If you are in danger, contact the police. 

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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