26 yob crimes happen 'every minute'
More than 26 incidents of anti-social behaviour take place every minute, the chief inspector of constabulary has said.
Sir Denis O'Connor said tackling anti-social behaviour is often not seen as "real police work" and "does not have the same status as 'crime' for the police".
Police officers "retreating from the streets" since the 1970s have "undermined their connection with the public, and allowed some of these things to gather momentum", he said.
But forces across the country need to recognise that in nine out of 10 cases, police are the first authority the public turn to when suffering anti-social behaviour and a new approach is needed "to restore civility to public spaces", he said. "The public do not distinguish between anti-social behaviour and crime. For them, it's just a sliding scale of grief."
Only a quarter of the incidents of anti-social behaviour, about 3.5 million, were reported and communities are "becoming used to things we should not have become used to", he said.
Speaking at a briefing at Beormund Community Centre in Bermondsey, south east London, Sir Denis said: "Some people don't think this is real policing. They have, in their own head, reinvented policing, which is policing that focuses around certain things that happen to be categorised in a piece of legislation somewhere as crime. This kind of area matters but it doesn't count very much in the current system, not in the way that crime does. We can do better than this."
Sir Denis said he was concerned that spending cuts could further reduce frontline police manpower.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Over time, this has been cut back. The first thing that's gone is the front end on the streets and I think it's been a big error. I don't think this (anti-social) behaviour is going to reduce because we are going through an austerity period. I'm concerned that the police availability, which is already low, if it is reduced further, I do not see much hope for people. As far as the police officers are concerned, it's not just about presence, it's the presence of control. We have to reclaim some neighbourhoods."
He questioned the past focus on statistics and the millions spent on local partnerships to little visible effect. Mr McKeever told the programme: "This is very much a commonsense report. He's put in black and white what we have been saying for some time."
He said police were bringing those responsible for anti-social behaviour into contact with the criminal justice system but tough sanctions were not being imposed.