THE report recently by Baroness Newlove which clearly states that Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) is not being taken seriously enough has to be a wake-up call.

When you set this in the context of the ongoing debate about violent and knife crime then we should all be concerned.

If we look at it from a public health approach, then ASB is the low grade infection which if unchecked turns into the far more serious if not critical condition of violent crime.

We are told that Dorset is the 13th safest county and we are one of the safest areas to live in the country.

For Dorset, however, significant ASB has implications for the future.

Across the county, there have been numerous incidents and the Bournemouth and Dorset Echo have done a great job on reporting these.

They seem perceptually to be on the increase.

ASB can make individuals feel unsafe and disrupt the quality of their lives whether you live in the smallest village or the largest conurbation.

What is definite is that the latest annual figures available from the Home Office (April 2017 – March 2018) shows that we have one of the highest incidence rates in the country for ASB.

Across the South of England, only Gloucestershire is slightly higher. The average for the country is 28/1,000 people – Dorset is 36/1,000. That makes us the eighth worst in the country.

In the next couple of months the next annual figures will be released – I am not optimistic.

This cannot be allowed to continue. We all have to have a duty as citizens to try and address this and only by us all taking responsibility for calling it out and working with the police and other agencies can solutions be found.

We must strive to make improvements and have them put in place by many organisations to address this blight on our county.

Resources are tight and we need more police and funding for this issue generally but there is more that we can do.

The first principle of policing laid down at its inception by Sir Robert Peel is “To prevent crime and disorder”.

There needs to be a change in the strategic priorities of the Dorset Police and Crime Plan to put this front and centre.

Robust enforcement needs to be coupled with many other interventions to address the different types of ASB that we experience.

Baroness Newlove hit the nail on the head with her report – we have to all take this seriously before the same people who feel they can get away with ASB move onto other more dangerous things.

DAVID SIDWICK, Conservative candidate for Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner