Citizens Unlikely to Tackle Anti-Social Behaviour

Could benefit from first-aid type training

Related Links


Sign up for email newsletters from,,,,,, and

Britain has the worst anti-social behaviour problem in Europe, and we are far less likely to intervene and challenge people’s behaviour according to Ben Rogers, author of a report commissioned by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) called "The Woolwich Model - How citizens can tackle anti-social behaviour".  

The report suggests that attitudes would change if people in the community, like postmen and traffic wardens, were trained in safety skills, just as they can be in first aid.

The sorts of antisocial behaviour examined can be anything from littering, vandalism, fly-tipping, to playing loud music.

A study done a few years ago in Germany showed that where 60% of Germans would intervene to stop a group of 14-year-olds vandalising a bus shelter, that figure falls to 30% here in Britain.

Rogers, interviewed on Radio 4's Today Programme this week, says that if you have a set of skills and you know how to manage a situation, it can make a huge difference in confidence. He says: “the police are taught those skills; teachers acquire them quite naturally. There is training on offer and people who have done the training come out of it saying they have found it quite useful.

“Useful skills include being able  to read a situation (should you just walk on by? Is it so dangerous that you need to call the Police, or might you be able to intervene effectively?), being able to protect yourself and using mediation skills to resolve conflicts or calm someone down.

“These skills are taught to the police and to community safety officers. Local councils are also teaching these skills to their park staff. When they have learned these skills, people come out saying they feel more confident and can make a better judgment about whether it’s safe to intervene or not.

“Right now we are a bit too willing either just to walk away, or to call the police when it’s not necessary.

Rogers gave an example of his own experience which illustrates his point: "I was in a park just after England had lost to Germany in the World Cup. A drunk came in and went up to the park keeper and asked to use the loo.

"He was told he couldn’t as the loo was for kids only. He cursed and said he was going to use the sandpit. The park keeper then picked up the phone and called the police.

"Ten minutes later, she was treating a child who had cut her foot on some glass – as she had done a first aid course. This is just one illustration of what I’m talking about. In one case she has to call the Police, and in the other she feels she has the confidence to do something about it."

July 14, 2010