Defusing community conflict and antisocial behaviour

Most of us don’t want to stand by when someone else is in difficulty or when we see others vandalising, bullying or being threatening. We have a natural urge to try to cool arguments or prevent fighting, but such actions can feel risky.

Antisocial behaviour in the community or ongoing disputes between neighbours can make going home miserable. Feeling unable to do anything about it can lead to further feelings of powerlessness. Furthermore, tolerating those who behave antisocially sends a message that their behaviours are acceptable.

Dfuse can provide a way to respond. Our experts can help you, or the community you work with, to assess situations and safely defuse them.

Effective defusing can prevent a situation from becoming so serious that it requires police a intervention – ensuring their resources can be allocated elsewhere to tackle urgent issues.

Defusing is not about duplicating police efforts or creating ‘have-a-go’ heroes but there is a role for the public to play in responding to antisocial behaviour.

The Dfuse team will tailor courses to help participants to respond effectively to the antisocial or challenging behaviours affecting their community.

Defusing community conflict and antisocial behaviour training is ideal for:

  • Regular complainants about antisocial behaviour
  • Whole communities where antisocial behaviour or neighbourhood conflict is causing problems
  • People with roles in the community such as Street Pastors, Community Wardens, Community Volunteers
  • PCSOs to boost their skills after initial training

“The training has changed how I would approach a situation being a little less confrontational and more willing to listen, which would hopefully have a calming effect on the other parties.” – Resident, Thames Valley

What to do when faced with antisocial behaviour

It is often possible for a few simple actions to defuse a situaiton. Many of us don’t want to stand by and do nothing to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Have a look at these 10 top tips for defusing antisocial behaviour in your community

Who you gonna call?

We can’t always defuse situations, much as we may want to. If you’re faced with conflict or antisocial behaviour and it is just too complex, see who can help.

Have a look at our directory for support.

Supporting Thames Valley Police with community defusing skills training

Thames Valley Police partnered with Dfuse to pilot training for community members and frequent complainants of antisocial behaviour.

Dfuse believes there is a role for the public in responding to anti-social behaviour, in much the same way as the public help the medical emergency services by performing first aid. In partnership with Thames Valley Police, Dfuse offered free places on its Defusing conflict and anti-social behaviour courses to members of the public across the Thames Valley. The course taught techniques and skills to enable people to deal with potential incidents of ASB before they escalate to a point where police need to be called.

Like learning first aid, the skills for responding to ASB can be learnt, but individuals must also be confident in applying the skills and be willing to take action to benefit their community. In 2012 Thames Valley Police were called to 45,090 ASB incidents. This pilot was to see whether community education would lead to a reduction in the number of minor ASB incidents escalating and therefore not need a Police intervention.

Ch Supt Tim De Meyer, Head of Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships, said: “It is important to work closely with our partners to tackle anti-social behaviour as it covers such a wide range of incidents. We knew of the work of Dfuse and thought their approach might help us to work with people to reduce anti-social behaviour. Its purpose is not to encourage people to put themselves in danger. The idea is to educate people in how to deal with conflict and so prevent minor incidents escalating.  We hope that this will enable people to help themselves, their communities, and the police to resolve problems. People will be given the skills and confidence to reduce the potential for conflict and complement the work of their neighbourhood policing team.  They will not be encouraged to take unnecessary risks.”

Dfuse and Thames Valley Community Defusing

Dfuse provided training in each of the local policing areas (LPAs) and aimed to tackle the particular problems of anti social behaviour that affect a specific neighbourhood.

The evaluation of the programme sought to establish whether skilling the community had the potential to contribute to reducing the effects of conflict and antisocial behaviour.  In particular by reducing the police attendance at incidents which do not require their attention, and by preventing volatile situations from escalating to the point where police attendance is required.

You can download the full evaluation report which outlines the findings here. Download

“Some of those who attended training had an occasion to use their new skills, and did so with success – without calling the Police.”

The results of the evaluation suggest that training the public to respond to community conflicts and antisocial behaviour could lead to a reduction in the numbers of calls made to for assistance. Uptake of the training was lower than anticipated and training was spread thinly across Thames Valley and so it was not possible to isolate the impact on antisocial behaviour related calls to the Police. However, the individuals who received training reported learning new techniques and displayed measurable and lasting increases in confidence to deal with conflict and willingness to challenge antisocial behaviour in their community. Some of those who attended training had an occasion to use their new skills, and did so with success – without calling the Police. For example one resident who persistently complained to the Police successfully resolved their issue with one simple conversation.

The findings suggest that community members are willing to act to prevent antisocial behaviour worsening which could lead to cost saving benefits for the Police and Crime Commissioner PCC. In addition, Police and Public joint ownership of community problems, promoted through this approach, is a useful way to strengthen police and public partnerships around antisocial behaviour. This could create stronger relationships between the public and all agencies who are involved in the process of managing antisocial behaviour in the community.