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Preventing Anti-Social Behaviour on Public Transport: An Alternative Route?

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2010 Pages: 176-193
Stephen Moore
Date Published
July 2010
18 pages
This article explores the current policies used to limit antisocial behavior on public transport and suggest they are based on the mistaken notion that antisocial behavior and crime compose a single problem that can be tackled with one, unified policy response. It is argues instead that issues of antisocial behavior and crime need to be disaggregated and then responded to as separate and largely distinct social problems.
This article begins by providing evidence of the social importance of public transport as a major place of social interaction and points out the impact of perceptions of antisocial behavior and crime has on bus travel. The article points out that antisocial behavior on public transport has received relatively little attention from criminologist and, partially as a result of this lack of interest, policy initiatives have been restricted to a narrow range of largely punitive approaches that see antisocial behavior and crime as intertwined phenomena. Specifically, antisocial behavior is seen as a precursor to more serious crime and as such antisocial behavior is treated in much the same way as criminal behavior. The author suggests that bus travelers engage in a complex process of defining antisocial behavior and distinguishing it from crime. The significance of this is that it is antisocial behavior not crime that dissuades people from using public transport. This suggests that if greater emphasis were place on how the traveling public define and respond to antisocial behavior, as opposed to crime, distinctive policies in response to the specific behaviors could be developed. The article makes use of unpublished research commissioned by Transport for London (TfL) to advocate an approach to antisocial behavior on public transport based on the promotion of the values of reciprocity, respect, and tolerance and by seeking to place a space between crime and low level antisocial behavior. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the Considerate Traveler Campaign adopted by TfL, which is designed to promote respect and tolerance and suggests that the evaluation of the campaign provides some degree of support for this approach. Finally, it is suggested that this approach need not be restricted to public transport, but has wider potential. Figure and references (Published Abstract)