Anti-social behaviour training 'could defuse conflict'

Youths on a housing estate The training would include how to "read" situations and resolve conflicts

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Members of the public should be given lessons in how to tackle anti-social behaviour, a charity has suggested.

The RSA, which aims to solve "social challenges", says police officers or volunteers could provide training, including methods to defuse conflict.

Its report says the need to get people involved has become more urgent because of police cuts in England and Wales.

But the Police Federation said officers did not have the resources to offer such training because of the cuts.

The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) says the English riots of a year ago "laid bare both the risks and strengths of self-organised citizen defence".

And it says there is a growing interest in the idea of training people to deal with low-level crime and aggressive behaviour on the streets.

Author Ben Rogers said that with "the real prospect of traditional police patrolling being scaled back" it was time to "focus seriously on agreeing the core skills that active citizens need".

The report concludes that, "while public concern for low-level disorder remains high, citizens have little or no confidence to intervene".

And it said introducing the training alongside other measures "aimed at building long-term civic capacity" would "go some way towards healing our anxious communities".

Conflict resolution

The RSA said the training should include:

  • Self-protection and restraint - what physical steps to take to minimise the risk to oneself
  • How to "read" a situation - when to walk on by, when it's safe to intervene or when to call the police
  • Conflict resolution and mediation - how to defuse an argument, forge an agreement and, where appropriate, give an apology

It said training should also be given to "front-line" public servants including public transport workers, traffic wardens and teachers.

Shopkeepers, publicans and postal workers could also benefit from the training, the RSA said.

Although the report recommends that police officers provide the training, it says volunteers could be trained to pass on their knowledge to others.

The National Childbirth Trust - whose classes are run by parents rather than midwives - could work as a model for the scheme, the charity added.

'Society's problems'

Paul McKeever from the Police Federation, who is also a member of the RSA, told the Today programme that while the report contained positive ideas, the police did not have the resources to "take this additional burden on".

He added: "What we're dealing with here is perhaps the symptoms of some much more deep-rooted problems within society. You need to deal with those problems rather than just skimming the surface and dealing with some of the anti-social behaviour that presents itself out there on the streets."

The RSA's report mentions a charity called Dfuse, which trains people in conflict resolution. Its founder Jane Atkinson said its training teaches people to respond to situations, rather than immediately intervene.

"Response might be going round the corner and calling the police," she said. "It might be being a very good witness. It might be actually intervening yourself but only if you feel you can do something.

"The aim is to communicate, to defuse the situation. So what you never do is use the words which spring spontaneously to your lips."

In May, the government announced new plans to tackle anti-social behaviour in England and Wales, including orders to replace Asbos.

Proposals in the government's White Paper include cutting the number of different orders from 19 to six while it said a "community trigger" would force police, councils and agencies to act if five households made a complaint.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    This is a clear case of someone sidestepping the real issue.... we need a society where the police are doing what they are supposed to do and not hindered by bureaucracy, parents are allowed to be parents and teachers are allowed to be teachers and to instill morality in the youth of today. Corporal punishment never did anyone any harm either!

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    We already have people trained to do this they are called the Police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Don't even bother the law is on the side of the criminal you will lose and go to prison while they get to sue you and carry on with their life of crime.

    Its time people stopped with the hug a hoodie rubbish and we start locking them up thugs, thieves and rapists have on place on the street.
    Its time the government looked after the law abiding people of this country not the other way round.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    If I were to intervene in a street dispute and attempt a citizens arrest I would expect to be either stabbed OR charged by the police with false imprisonment/assault.

    I would like to see the law changed to prioritise the rights of the victims & Innocent bystanders above the rights of the criminals. I would also like to see more genuine Police Officers and fewer useless PCSOs on our streets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    If the government really want everyone to be vigilantes they should just let everyone carry firearms.

    At least then an old lady could intervene and defeat a group of younger men, instead of whoever is strongest physically winning like they're suggesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    People, "human rights law" and the like doesn't really come into it. The ECHR is so vague and exception-filled as to achieve little, and Lords/SC interpret it fairly narrowly anyway (except perhaps wrt/ extradition cases, not relevant here).

    Don't let DM headlines distract you from the main problem: Cameron, like Blair, doesn't like rule of law and is breaking the spirit + strength of the police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Criminals can carry weapons, while law-abiding citizens cannot - and are forced to chicken out.

    Sure criminals would behave differently if their victims or passers-by were potentially armed?

    Instead, yes, the law protects them from anyone who dares to stand in their way. Disgusting nanny state would never allow weapons for the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    "citizens have little or no confidence to intervene...." We've seen what can happen when people intervene. As for "Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce...", how does their expertise cover public safety. Wouldn't get too wound up in a discussion, we'll have forgotten all about it tomorrow. Just an attention seeking group, looking for a headline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    When I grew up in the 1950s if you caused a disturbance in the street most adults would either give you a good shake or a clip around the ear. That was how disapproval and discipline was enacted, by all adults. Now if you do that you get hauled before the courts. The naughty child gets compensation and you get a criminal record. End result - we have a society with no real discipline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    We don't need anti-social behavior training; most people are too busy working all the hours God sends already. What some people need, however, is stricter birth-control training.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Parents of kids who have no respect for others need training in how to be a decent parent. Police need to do their jobs instead of wasting time on minor offences and victimless crimes. Local authorities need to learn how to prioritize severe social issues over "sustainable inter-faith cohesion" courses (or other such inane rubbish). It's not my responsibility to do the job for elected/paid bodies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Does this mean I get a water cannon too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Ridiculous - a pre-requiste to this is to scrap the human rights law. Such confusing messages from the government, the police and do-gooders.
    The Riots last year shoudl have been a catalyst to re-introduce effective policing - in effect zero-tolerance, instead we have a bunch of idiots still fretting over "community relations"

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    People trained to deal with anti-social behaviour? That would of course target those causing it, right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Calling the police will usually have little effect as a Police Force ready to spring 24/7 to our protection exists only in TV fiction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    What we need is some proper discispline for children from a young age from parents schools and society as a whole.
    Lack of discipline is the root cause of this anti-social resulting a total lack of respect for anyhting and anyone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Intervene for the benefit of others ? Society has kept me out of work after 600 job applications and 70 interviews. Now you want me to do YOU favours ???....someone can take a running jump into a very deep lake.

    Actually when I'm not being grumpy I have intervened. But if someone wants to provide training , they can focus on training related to employment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    How about the government not making 16,000 police officers redundant ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    We do not need training. We just need correct, hard hitting laws to rid society of this brainless trash. If the law protected the victim, we would be in a far better situation. Get rid of human rights, political correctness, health and safety, and lets start growing up in this country for a change. Hooded thugs need to be completely eliminated from society. Lets just have the guts to do it!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    When you are ill, you expect the doctor to treat the illness, not the the symptoms.


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