Retailers have welcomed the findings of a new report which calls on the government to do more to tackle the economic and social reasons behind anti-social behaviour.

The report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, based on research from King’s College, London, also calls for the scope of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) to be clearly defined.

Study co-author Mike Hough said: “The public want policy makers to balance tough enforcement through ASBOs with strong, high-profile action to prevent problems and offer young people constructive alternatives to hanging around on the streets.”

David Brunt, who runs the Londis store in Birchess Head, Staffordshire, said: “The government should be looking at ways to get young people off the streets by funding more community activities. ASBOs should be used only as a last resort aimed at the minority who cause most of the trouble.”

The research follows a report into anti-social behaviour published by the Home Affairs Select Committee in April, which concluded that the government’s approach was ‘about right’. Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive has given local authorities in Scotland the power to use ASBOs in connection with retail crime.