Anti-Social Behaviour

While the vast majority of students are respectful, considerate and hardworking, a small, but significant, minority are not.

In any normal residential community, a small number of ‘nuisance’ residents can be dealt with without too much of a problem.  However, when a community includes an excessive number of transient ‘problem’ residents then systemic issues can arise and this is what has happened in Egham and Englefield Green as a consequence of Royal Holloway’s expansion. The systemic issue that residents have seen for over a decade now, has its roots in a number of different aspects of the college’s presence:

Firstly, there are the numbers: if you had a population of 1,000 students living in the community and 1% behaved in an antisocial way then you would have 10 offenders to deal with.  However, if you expand that student population to 10,000 then you – or rather the local authorities – have 100 students to deal with!

Secondly, there is anecdotal evidence that the incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) by students are tightly correlated to the proliferation of HMOs.  When you house 4, 5 or even 6 students in a property built to house a conventional family, then it should come as no surprise that the living habits of that HMO household are likely to result in conflict with neighbouring households living a more conventional lifestyle.

Finally, this is a transient population and so if the local authorities – who are already hard-pressed with many other conflicting priorities to deal with – manage to address the problems of one household, then it will only be a matter of months before those students move on, a new household moves in and the problems can start all over again.

So, what can be done?

The government has recognised that, if left unchecked, anti-social behaviour can have an overwhelming impact in its victims and, in some cases, on the wider community.  To help deal with this, the government introduced the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 giving local agencies new and greater powers to deal with ASB on a local basis including such measures as the Community Trigger and the Public Spaces Protection Order.  At the same time, the government also published guidance aimed at frontline professionals and it is clear from this guidance that the emphasis is on ‘putting the victims at the heart of the response to anti-social behaviour’.

To help ensure that local agencies listened to the voices of those affected by ASB – and responded accordingly – the 2014 Act introduced a process that allowed victims to call for a review of how the local agencies had responded to reports of ASB.  Further details of this process, also known as the Community Trigger, can be found on the Runnymede Borough Council’s website.

It is important to note that one of the factors needed to be able to request a Community Trigger is that the victim has reported three qualifying complaints of ASB in a six-month period.  So, the first step in tackling ASB is to make sure that all incidents are reported and for further advice on how to do this, please visit our dedicated page ‘Reporting ASB’.