It’s fair to say that the UK faces significant and widespread challenges when it comes to criminal behaviour across the country. Whether that’s on our roads, in businesses and homes, or somewhere else entirely, the statistics on just how many of us will face crime in our lifetimes make for grim reading.
That’s especially true of antisocial behaviour, or ASB, which has long been an unwelcome feature of a shocking proportion of Britain’s streets and neighbourhoods. While it is an unclear label at best, it’s undoubtedly something many of us have encountered in some capacity.
At Churchill Support Services, we’ve got a track record of openly representing the data and the stats you need to know to stay safe – best exemplified by our long-standing rankings of the most dangerous areas of the UK. It’s all part of our ongoing commitment to truly ensuring safety with both our industry-leading security services, and with our transparent reporting.
With our latest piece, we’ll explore everything you need to know about ASB, where to avoid if you’re seeking to shake off the UK’s infamous reputation for antisocial behaviour, and how you can actively combat what’s quickly becoming an epidemic.
First, it’s important to understand what we mean by antisocial behaviour. It’s easy to imagine the stereotypical hooded teenagers, loitering and generally making a nuisance of themselves, but the truth of the matter is that ASB is a much more diverse concept than that.
The UK government changed its definition of the “catch all” term as recently as 2012, eschewing the vague description in favour of clearer guidelines, better classification of criminal behaviour, and a more apparent way forward in countering the issues faced.
According to the latest government publication, antisocial behaviour is now placed in one of three different categories – personal, nuisance, and environmental. Let’s look at each of those in more depth:
Under those categorisations, we find many of the illicit activities and generally disruptive actions we’d expect under the banner of antisocial behaviour. That includes, but isn’t limited to:
Of course, while this clearer reporting makes it easier for police forces to categorise offences appropriately and efficiently, it only gives us a partial picture of how affected the UK is by antisocial behaviour.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say exactly how much antisocial behaviour goes on in the UK. It’s thought that much of it goes unreported for one reason or another, especially with public faith in the police waning in recent years.
However, we can make a good estimate with the data that is available. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that there were 1,015,616 separate incidents of antisocial behaviour, including those recorded by the British Transport Police, over the course of 2022/23.
Taking that a step further, the data shows that an estimated 34.2% – or just over 1 in every 3 – UK residents have experienced or witnessed antisocial behaviour over the last year. That’s where the true impetus of the data lies – the impact of antisocial behaviour isn’t just limited to one person.
The Home Office’s recent research shed light on several concerning statistics to arise from the more than 1 million instances of antisocial behaviour. Here’s just a snapshot of the government’s data, and how the reach of ASB is far more than just a single person:
However, what’s important to recognise is that those million plus incidents aren’t evenly distributed across age and gender lines. Those same governmental statistics found that men (25% of victims) are more likely to be significantly affected by ASB than women (15% of victims).
Younger people (particularly those aged between 18 and 34) are more likely to be disproportionately affected by antisocial behaviour, and experience more drastic, long-term impacts as a result. While the statistics don’t drill down far enough for us to understand the ages of those directly affected by ASB, it’s safe to say that it’s a crime that has far-reaching and often unrealised consequences.
That’s fed directly into public perceptions of antisocial behaviour nationwide. An estimated 24% of those surveyed as part of the Home Office’s research cited ASB as a “big problem” in their area – a figure that’s remained consistent over the last decade.
What’s not stayed consistent, though, is the distribution of those antisocial behaviour issues across the country. Let’s look at some of England and Wales’ hardest-hit regions when it comes to antisocial behaviour.
Let’s look at the areas of the UK with the highest rates of antisocial behaviour, and why there’s such a cause for concern in that region.
A sprawling conurbation across the North West of England, Greater Manchester is often seen as one of England’s more pivotal areas. It’s easy to see why – Manchester is one of the UK’s most culturally and economically influential cities, and upcoming regions like Bolton, Rochdale and Wigan complement what’s fast becoming one of the country’s more popular areas.
Undercutting that popularity, however, is the region’s concerning statistics on antisocial behaviour. The latest estimates state that 40.8% of Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million residents have been affected by ASB in just the last year.
The UK’s southernmost county, Dorset and its infamous Jurassic Coast couple sweeping vistas of the English Channel with the seaside charms of towns like Bournemouth. A veritable melding of culture and commerce, the area has solidified its reputation as a major tourist destination.
The region’s figures in antisocial behaviour (17,296 offences) are among the UK’s worst, with an estimated 40.8% of the area’s 772,268 residents having experienced some form of ASB in the last year.
Characterised by its close proximity to the eponymous River Humber, Humberside encompasses key areas across the North of England, including major urban areas like Hull, Grimsby and Scunthorpe. While no longer a county, it’s still viewed as both a spiritual and physical home by many, and held with a fierce sense of pride by those who’ve spent any time there.
However, while the region no doubt has its aficionados, the area’s rate of antisocial behaviour is among the worst across the UK. It’s estimated that a shocking 41% of the 932,800 people living in the Humberside area experienced some form of ASB in the last year alone.
Best known for its iconic links to figures of legend in Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire is one of England’s more rural counties, with great swathes of the region bisected by green belt land, emerald canopies and the banks of the River Trent. It’s that rurality, coupled with the flourishing economies of the county’s cities, that make it such an attractive prospect.
What’s perhaps not as appealing, though, is the county’s issues with antisocial behaviour (18,551 incidents). A concerning 41.2% of the area’s 826,257 residents have been a victim of, or affected by, ASB in the last year alone.
A quintessential slice of English greenery and countryside in the rolling hills of Southern England, Kent is what many imagine when they think of Britain’s wilds. Chocolate box villages dot the landscape which gives way to the county’s larger cities, and self-sufficient economies in their own right. That quaint exterior hides a dark secret in its antisocial behaviour figures, however.
Kent is statistically one of the most dangerous areas for antisocial behaviour in the UK, with 26,160 incidents over the last year. That’s led to widespread public concern, with an estimated 41.4% of all Kent’s residents having directly been affected by antisocial behaviour.
One of the North East’s major counties, County Durham is an area of massive juxtaposition, taking in both the coastal panoramas of Seaham and Hartlepool, and the cathedral spires of the city of Durham. Grounded in its history and its keen sense of local culture, there’s much to bring people to the area.
Equally though, the issues the county faces with antisocial behaviour (20,059 incidents) detracts from that overall appeal. Surveys revealed that a shocking 42.7%% of County Durham’s 866,846 residents experienced some form of ASB in the last year alone.
Home to the ever-popular city of Brighton and Hove, as well as some of England’s most breathtaking views across the chalky cliffsides and low-slung coves and coastlines. Couple that with some of the UK’s most unspoilt countryside vistas, and it’s clear to see why Sussex is called home by more than 1.7 million people.
That popularity has, however, led to a spike in the amount of antisocial behaviour (20,048 offences) across both East and West Sussex, with around 42.8% of the county’s residents experiencing some form of ASB in just the last year.
Perhaps more famed for its namesake city in Derby, the county of Derbyshire offers much more beyond what’s quickly become a major metropolis for the North. From the rolling hills of the Peak District, to its thriving car manufacturing economies dotted throughout the county, there’s a sense of diversity that’s a rarity across the UK.
Hidden under that veneer, however, are startling figures in antisocial behaviour. With 22,351 separate incidents in the last year alone, it’ll perhaps come as no surprise to see Derbyshire in our rankings of the worst areas in the UK for antisocial behaviour. Plus, with more than 43% of the county’s residents having been impacted by ASB, it’s clearly a widespread issue.
One of England’s newer regions, and an influential part of the culture that makes the North East such an integral part of the UK’s patchwork of culture, Cleveland is fast becoming popular. Much of that is down to the omnipresence of cities like Middlesbrough, but the dales and greenery also draw in an entirely different crowd.
However, with that surging popularity comes the increased risk of criminal activity, and antisocial behaviour (26,575 offences) is no different. That goes a step further, too – around 47.7% of the region’s 1.1 million residents have experienced ASB in some capacity in just the last 12 months.
Nestled in southeastern Wales, the ceremonial county of Gwent is no doubt a surprise inclusion at the top of our list of the worst areas for antisocial behaviour in the UK. Home to the budding city of Newport, alongside the typically unspoiled landscapes of the Welsh countryside, Gwent has much to draw in the crowds it does attract.
Beneath the surface, though, lurks a pressing problem with antisocial behaviour. A staggering 50% – or half – of all those living in the Gwent area reported experiencing ASB in some capacity. Plus, with 10,803 instances of antisocial behaviour in what is one of the UK’s smaller counties, it’s only set to grow.
While the data we’ve presented above does make for concerning reading, especially if you’re looking to move to one of those particularly affected areas, there is a silver lining. Data from the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics shows that antisocial behaviour has steadily decreased over the last few years.
In fact, when comparing last year’s data with the previous year’s, we find that the total number of antisocial behaviour offences has fallen by 8%, from 1.105 million over 2021/22, to 1.015 million in 2022/23.
We’re also a significant amount lower than the figures we saw at the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021, where there was a dizzying 2.051 million instances of antisocial behaviour over that 12 months period alone.
There’s multiple reasons for that reduction, of course. Better policing, improved classification of ASB incidents, and the gradual phase-out of lockdown and other pandemic-related restrictions have meant there’s less incidents classified as ASB, and great powers of actioning for the police and courts.
Delving deeper, we find that public concern has, on the whole, dipped in a similar fashion. Using the ONS’s data, there’s several key areas that have fallen, alongside a couple of points of concern that have become more focal. These include:
All of this is to say that, while antisocial behaviour is (as we’ve seen) still a hugely prominent issue across the UK, and one that’s got far-reaching implications beyond the victim, the outlook is positive. It’s not, however, quite as positive for crime overall.
Those same statistics from the ONS show that, while ASB has seen a substantial decline, the overall number of criminal offences has seen an uptick, albeit a smaller one. When we compare the figures from 2021/22 to those for 2022/23, there’s a 1% increase, rising from 6.625 million offences to 6.691 million offences. There are measures you can put into place, though.
As crime figures continue their inexorable and concerning rise, it falls to professional security companies to ensure that businesses, events and individuals stay safe. At Churchill Support Services, that’s something we’ve long been conscious of, especially as one of the UK’s foremost providers of tailormade security.
We understand both the ever-present issues, like criminal damage and antisocial behaviour, as well as the emerging and changing threats your premises faces, and we strive to put solutions into place that adapt alongside the changing landscape of crime.
You’ll find that evidenced across all of the security solutions we provide, from expertly trained security officers through to cutting-edge CCTV and monitoring solutions. All of that is delivered with our signature blend of customisation, affordability, and unparalleled passion for all we do.
Wherever you’re based, and whether you’re concerned about ASB or something else entirely, we’re able to offer that same level of exceptional service. Get in touch today to discuss what we can offer for you and your area, and to receive your free, no obligation quotation.