Erewash parents signing contracts to pledge their rowdy children will behave

Council leaders say fewer children are misbehaving.
Council leaders say fewer children are misbehaving.

Rowdy Erewash children and their parents are signing contracts with the council pledging that they will behave – or face harsher punishment.

Erewash Borough Council is also sending warning letters to parents of young people behaving antisocially in the community.

Further letters were also sent to parents whose children had been caught with alcohol.

The authority has been signing voluntary Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) with parents and their children.

These contracts are often drawn up by councils or police forces as a first step to quashing poor behaviour – short of escalating the issue with what was once called a Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), now a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO).

CBOs are often used to restrict people from entering certain areas of a village, town or city, to prevent further misbehaviour.

A borough council report, approved at a meeting of the authority’s executive, says that the contracts aim to “manage behaviour in the community and to prevent escalation into the youth criminal justice system”.

The report says that some of the contracts have been completed with the help of Nottinghamshire Police “as young people were coming across and causing antisocial behaviour in Erewash”.

A number of these contracts were drawn up due to the young people involved possessing alcohol.

These contracts specify a list of anti-social acts in which the person has been involved and which they agree not to continue.

Home Office information on the contracts says: “Support to address the underlying causes of the behaviour should be offered in parallel to the contract.

“This may include diversionary activities (such as attendance at a youth project), counselling or support for the family.”

Breach of this contract could see the young person subject to the order served with a CBO.

ABCs have been used to address a wide range of anti-social behaviour including:

Harassment of residents or passers-by

Verbal abuse

Criminal damage

Vandalism

Noise nuisance

Writing graffiti

Engaging in threatening behaviour in large groups

Racial abuse

Smoking or drinking alcohol while under age

Substance misuse

Joy riding

Begging

Prostitution

Kerb-crawling

Katherine Thornhill, community safety manager at Erewash Community Safety Partnership, says that “generally” anti-social behaviour is starting to decline after years of work.

The community partnership is a combination of organisations, including the borough and county council, police and fire services and the county’s health chiefs.

Ms Thornhill said: “The work we undertake with parents to deal with young people’s anti-social behaviour has been in place for a number of years.

“The purpose behind the partnership system is to make sure that parents are aware of the incidents that their children are involved in, and at Acceptable Behaviour Stage (ABC) stage, give them an additional tool to try and stop the behaviour.

“Research shows that low-level anti-social behaviour (ASB) can escalate and in doing so, can have a detrimental impact on both the community but also the young person, including damaging career prospects.

“Therefore, we try to give every opportunity for the family to be aware of the behaviour in question, to understand that impact it has on the community and to stop it.

“This system, however depends on the engagement of the parents once they are aware of the behaviour.

“The council knows from consultation that community safety matters including ASB, are areas of work that our communities are concerned about, and commits to working in partnership to take positive steps to support individuals to stop the behaviour.

“Together with partners, the council also commits to taking robust action if the individuals don’t engage and this can include court orders.

“Youth ASB and under-age drinking has changed over the years, and generally ASB figures seem to be showing a decrease.

“However, this is within a wider context of changing public perceptions and increasing organisational risk and threat areas, including the risks posed by cyber-enabled behaviour.”