Police officer in tolerance plea
We should not be intolerant to "normal child-like" activities, a senior anti-social behaviour police officer has said.
Deputy chief constable Simon Edens said there was a "marked difference" between groups of children socialising in the street and intimidating gangs "roaming neighbourhoods".
He called for a greater understanding of what constitutes anti-social behaviour.
There was a 30% reduction in incidents since 2007, a ccording to last year's British Crime Survey, but more than 46,000 people surveyed in England and Wales believe it has increased in their area.
"This clearly means that a conversation needs to be had about what people actually consider to be anti-social behaviour," said Mr Edens, the Association of Chief Police Officers' (Acpo) lead on anti-social behaviour.
"Unfortunately, there is no precise definition of anti-social behaviour. It's a broad remit which covers a range of unacceptable behaviour such as street drinking, environmental damage, fly-posting and begging.
"But it's important we don't become intolerant to normal child-like behaviour. There's a marked difference between a group of children gathering in the street and gangs roaming neighbourhoods bringing with them intimidation and fear.
"It's important we are clearer on what anti-social behaviour is so the public have confidence to pick up the phone and call us when they're suffering."
Mr Edens made the comments as Acpo launched a campaign with forces across England and Wales focusing on anti-social behaviour in the run-up to Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night.
"Not everyone likes trick or treating and not everyone feels it has a place in communities in the UK," he said.
"But it's now part of our culture and we should expect children to be in high spirits at that time.
"That being said, it's important that parents, schools and we the police do our bit to teach young people to recognise that not everyone considers trick or treating fun and for some, having unsolicited callers at their door after dark can be frightening. It's a balance of tolerance and respect."