How to deal with antisocial behaviour

Whether you rent or own your house, there are a variety of things you can do to try to stop the problems in your neighbourhood. Read this page for some practical tips on what you can do to try and alleviate the problem of anti social behaviour from neighbours or others.

Things to think about with antisocial behaviour

If you are being disturbed by antisocial behaviour from neighbours or your neighbourhood, there are several ways to solve, or improve, the problem. The action you take will depend on how serious things are and how reasonable your neighbours are. Before you do anything, read over the useful pointers below:

  • stay calm!

  • remember that the person might not be aware that they are disturbing you

  • be aware that the person causing the problem might not be able to control their behaviour (for example, they might be ill, disabled or have behavioural problems)

  • try to see things from the other person's point of view and be reasonable

Keep a diary

It's useful to make a note of everything that is happening, including:

  • what time it happens at

  • how frequently

  • the names/identity of the people involved

You should also keep a note of all the behaviour that is upsetting you so you can form a full picture of what has been happening.

Your diary will help you to show your neighbours that there is a pattern to what they are doing if you decide to approach them. There is more information on approaching your neighbours later on this page.

You might not realise it but the behaviour that has been disturbing or upsetting you may also be affecting other people and not just you. If you keep a diary, you will have a record of what has been happening so it can back up what other people are saying if things go any further.

Your diary will also be useful as evidence of what's been happening if you end up reporting the matter to the council.

Talk things through

If your neighbours, or other people in your street or block, are making a lot of noise or doing something else to disturb you in your home, try to stay calm. It's easy to get angry about it and it's also totally understandable. If you're renting, your landlord might be a good first contact as they may know the other people and be able to help you to help you find a solution.

However, in some cases, your neighbours may not realise that they are disturbing you and it might be worth approaching them to explain how their behaviour is affecting you and ask them to stop doing it. It's best to speak to your neighbour about this as soon as possible so you don't get stressed out and frustrated with the problem. You never know, you might find that your neighbour is shocked that they have been disturbing or upsetting you and that they will stop whatever they have been doing immediately.

If you decide to try talking to your neighbours directly, think carefully about what you want to say before you speak to them. Write down the points you want to make and try to stick to your point when you're speaking. If you have been keeping a diary of everything that has happened, take it along with you and show it to your neighbour. If they disagree with anything you are saying, be reasonable and try to reach a compromise rather than laying down the law. Although it might be difficult, try to be friendly and polite because shouting at someone won't get you anywhere. In fact, it could just make the problem worse!

If you try to be calm and reasonable but the situation still gets out of hand, try hard not to get angry. Just walk away rather than get into an argument.

If you would prefer to get some help or support before you approach your neighbour, ask a friend who doesn't live with you to come along with you. Don't take lots of people with you though because this could simply intimidate the person you are trying to reach a compromise with.

Alternatively, there may be some agencies in your area that will help you to negotiate with your neighbour. This is called mediation and the services available to you will depend on where you live. Visit the Scottish Mediation Network website to find out more.

Report the problem to the council

If you are suffering because of antisocial behaviour and you are not in any immediate danger, you should contact your local council and ask to speak to someone in the antisocial behaviour team to report the problem. It's a good idea to speak to your landlord as they may be able to help, for example if they know there have been problems before they can give you more information to give the council.

Councils must have plans in place for dealing with antisocial behaviour in their area. Each council is different so the service you get will depend on where you live. Some councils have lots of information on their websites whereas others have telephone helplines:

  • it might be possible for the council, the police, social workers and some other people to meet with the person who is causing the problem, talk about it and agree what to do about their behaviour. If an agreement is reached and put in writing, this is called an acceptable behaviour contract (ABC) or acceptable behaviour agreement (ABA)

  • if the person causing problems rents from a private landlord, the council can ensure that the landlord takes steps to prevent them behaving antisocially

  • if the situation hasn't improved by using other measures, the council can apply to court to get an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) against the person, or people, who are causing the problem. It might be possible for the court to grant an interim ASBO to prevent antisocial behaviour before the court hearing

Contact the police

If you are not in immediate danger, the police may not necessarily be the best people to contact (see 'report the problem to the council' above). However, 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.

The police have lots of powers to stop antisocial behaviour. Some of these powers involve working closely with the local council and other services in your area, such as social work. The police can also:

  • close down places which are, for example, drug or drinking dens or places in which continuous antisocial behaviour is happening

  • break up groups of people hanging about if the group is causing, or is likely to cause, alarm and distress (this is called setting up a dispersal area)

  • issue on-the-spot fines called fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for low-level antisocial offences such as breach of the peace

  • arrest someone who has an antisocial behaviour order against them but who breaks it by doing something they're not allowed to do under the conditions of the order

If you need some support, contact Victim Support Scotland for help and advice.

Other solutions

There might be more than one way of solving the problem of antisocial behaviour in your area. Although it can be frustrating, you might not find an answer straight away. Remember that every situation is different and the options available may be different depending on where you live. However, remember that there are other solutions available and it might be necessary to try a few out before finding the right one for your neighbourhood.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 24 September 2017

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