• From the informal to the disciplinary: Policing ‘juvenile nuisance’ and youth anti-social behaviour since the mid-1990s. A qualitative study of Police Officers’ perspectives

      Gorden, Caroline; Dubberley, Sarah; Cronin-Wojdat, Wayne P. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2020-07)
      A topic neglected in the academic literature is an exploration of police officers’ perspectives on policing anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to bridging that gap in the existing literature. This thesis describes a qualitative study that collected data by conducting semi-structured interviews with serving police officers from a United Kingdom police service. The academic literature indicated that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 resulted in considerable changes to policing anti-social behaviour. Therefore, this study wantednto capture the police officers’ perspectives of policing anti-social behaviour before and after the implementation of the Act. Therefore, serving police officers who began their service prior to the legislation were recruited. A key finding of this thesis is that the legal definition of anti-social behaviour is imprecise. Consequently, police officers defined and interpreted anti-social behaviour differently according to their unique worldviews. However, this study found that a key component of police officers’ definitions of anti-social behaviour is their understanding of respect. Police officers tended to define anti-social behaviour as conduct that showed disrespect or was inconsiderate to other people. This study found that since the mid-1990s, the police officers had noticed changes in the policing of anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. The types of changes they noticed included the demand for policing anti-social behaviour due to the public’s expectations, and the policing priority given to it. Police officers perceived that ‘traditional’ anti-social behaviour involving children and young people gathering in public spaces was now less prevalent and instead, a larger policing issue was the emerging phenomenon of cyber anti-social behaviour. The police officers indicated there had been changes in the police service’s response to the anti-social behaviour of children and young people. Police officers suggested there were differences in their discretion to informally resolve anti-social behaviour incidents because of an increase in accountability for their response to it. Additionally, the ethos had moved away from criminalising children and young people for anti-social behaviour, and instead, offering them conditional social support to help them desist. The multi-agency response to anti-social behaviour provided new insights into the causes of it and the vulnerability of children and young people. This study identified that police officers held contrasting perspectives about their organisation's approach to anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. There are implications for further research on the policing of anti-social behaviour. The research findings indicated that now academics need to be careful about using terms such as ‘the police view’ because police officers have multiple different perspectives on anti-social behaviour. Additionally, the focus of the literature was on ‘traditional’ anti-social behaviour caused by children and young people in public spaces, however that needs reviewing because of the emergence of cyber anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, the literature tends to link anti-social behaviour with low-level crime. However, due to the recent association between anti-social behaviour, child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation, the relationship between it and criminal offences requires revision.