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Overview of harassment and antisocial behaviour

This content applies to England

Main differences between harassment and antisocial behaviour. Actions not intended to force the occupier to leaver her/his home, but that cannot be tolerated. 

Occupiers may be subjected to forms of harassment and/or antisocial behaviour which are not intended to force her/him to leave the accommodation, but which cannot be tolerated. The distinction between harassment and antisocial behaviour is not always clear, but as a guideline, some common differences are outlined below.

Harassment

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 defines harassment as behaviour that the perpetrator knows (or ought to know) amounts to harassment of the victim,[1] and which occurs on at least two occasions.[2]

Offences under the Act could be carried out by occupiers of neighbouring properties, a landlord (or her/his agent), or any other person visiting the locality. Actions that might constitute harassment include:

  • harassment because of gender, race, disability or sexuality
  • violence, threats or intimidation
  • abusive or insulting words or behaviour.

For more information on offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, see the section on Harassment and antisocial behaviour. For more information about domestic violence, see the section on Domestic abuse.

Antisocial behaviour

Antisocial behaviour is an offence under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The legal definition includes harassment, but also covers a range of other situations. Antisocial behaviour may have occurred where an occupier is subjected to behaviour from a person not of the same household, which causes (or is likely to cause) harassment, alarm or distress.[3] Any person, including adults or children, can carry out antisocial behaviour. Antisocial behaviour is persistent behaviour and can include:

  • verbal abuse
  • harassment because of gender, race, disability or sexuality
  • violence or threats of violence
  • systematic bullying and/or intimidation
  • noise which is part of a pattern of antisocial behaviour
  • dumping rubbish
  • vandalism, damage to property and graffiti.

For more information on antisocial behaviour, see the section on harassment and antisocial behaviour. For more information about noise that is not caused by antisocial behaviour, see the section on Noise.

[1] s.1(1) Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

[2] s.7(3) Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

[3] s.1(a) Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

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