CAMPAIGNS: Public Sector - Cheltenham tackles yobs in media gaze

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) were introduced under the 1999 Crime and Disorder Act. They give courts the power to take any measures they see fit, including exclusion orders, to put a stop to yobbish behaviour.

Cheltenham Borough Council has been working in partnership with the local police and residents to ensure that ASBOs are applied where necessary.

Objectives

To raise local residents' awareness of the council's ASBO work and emphasise the close partnership with the police and local community. To raise the council's national profile on ASBO work.

Strategy and Plan

Because no budget was specifically allocated to this campaign, the in-house team relied on a media campaign using existing contacts to get messages across.

Local media were invited to the court hearings for the three Cheltenham juveniles who have received ASBOs, and briefed afterwards.

A close relationship was developed with the Gloucestershire Echo by giving it exclusives. This relationship meant sensitive interviews could be set up with victims of anti-social behaviour, emphasising that the local community as well as the council and police had run out of patience on this matter.

The case involving Cheltenham resident David Young in July 2001 was believed to be the first in the country concerning racist behaviour, so the campaign profile was raised to include national media as well.

This led to BBC TV's Panorama contacting the council about a programme on the introduction of ASBOs. By building a close relationship with the production team the council managed to ensure the entire programme was devoted to the Young case.

Measurement and Evaluation

The Gloucestershire Echo has carried around 40 articles on the various cases and subsequent developments, all reflecting positively on the introduction of ASBOs.

The Guardian ran an article last October on Cheltenham magistrates granting permission to 'name and shame' and the council's decision to publish the offender's name and street in its press release.

The Panorama programme broadcast in February 2002 was followed by an online debate. More than 110 people recorded their comments, around 30 per cent of them from Cheltenham.

The Daily Express ran an interview on ASBOs with the council leader in March.

Local coverage has also included reports on all the court cases on Central Television, and interviews on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

Results

No research has yet been done on local residents' awareness of ASBOs but reports from the local Tenants Federation, set up last year, show people are talking about the issue.

Housing officers are reporting that residents are asking whether ASBOs could be implemented in certain cases.

Client: Cheltenham Borough Council
PR Team: In-house
Campaign: Tackling the Tearaways
Timescale: July 2001 - ongoing
Budget: Part of annual budget
The Panorama programme, in particular, has done much to raise Cheltenham's national profile on ASBOs. Following the programme several other councils have asked to visit and find out how Cheltenham deals with the issue.

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