PhD Research Project

Anti social behaviour and policing in rural Scotland

Supervisors: Professor Nicholas Fyfe and Dr Donna Marie Brown University of Dundee

PhD Student: Andrew Wooff University of Dundee


Anti social behaviour is not a new phenomenon, with cases of noisy neighbours and difficult tenants stretching back to the 1970s (Popplestone, 1979). However, since Labour came to power in 1997, anti social behaviour has been high on the policy agenda, highlighted by their election tagline "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" (Labour Party, 1995). This tough stance has been continued by the Scottish Government, which announced that tackling the causes of anti social behaviour is key to their strategic objective for a 'safer, stronger' Scotland (Scottish Government, 2009). Since the introduction of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004, the relationship between the community, quality of life, respect and active citizenship is articulated through policy development. The Together and Respect campaign launched in 2004 and the Respect Task Force set up in 2006 aimed to "play a vital role in improving our communities and the lives of people in them and strengthen communities to ensure that public spaces are clean and safe" (Respect Task Force, 2006). Active citizenship is a key way of increasing respect within communities, especially through community policing and neighbourhood watch schemes. It would therefore appear that the concepts of public space, community and anti social behaviour are inextricably linked. This is borne out through the paradigmatic representation in the urban realm of anti social behaviour in academic literature - particularly through analysis of zero tolerance policing, urban renaissance and the affects of socio economic development on urban crime (Fyfe, 2004; Davis, 1992; Zukin 1995 and Low and Smith, 2006).

However, rural geographies, particularly in relation to community and anti social behaviour, remain largely under researched. The rural is often portrayed through the popular media and classic texts as being idyllic and having a strong sense of community spirit (Mathews et al, 2000; Valentine 1997). However, rather than being part of an ideal community many young adults, especially the least affluent, feel both spatially and temporally dislocated from village life and wider society (Mathews et al, 2000). These are feelings which are often conducive to causing anti social behaviour (Scottish Government, 2007). Furthermore, with the different legal context used in Scotland and the distinction in its use of dispersal orders and ASBO's, the three case studies chosen will help provide analysis of different police and local authority responses to rural anti social behaviour.


This project aims to examine the concept of rural anti social behaviour, in particular exploring the idea of active citizenship and positive social behaviour, concepts which have previously only been investigated in an urban setting (Fyfe and Bannister, 1996). Through analysis of existing urban anti social behaviour literature, the perception that rural settlements have a greater sense of community and therefore lower anti social behaviour will be tested. This examination will proceed through three case studies which have been chosen to explore the nature, impact and responses to anti social behaviour in rural communities in Scotland.


To advance current thinking on the issue of anti social behaviour in rural communities in Scotland by:


Outputs from this research will be placed here in due course.


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