Public opinion surveys largely neglect the ambiguity of ‘anti-social behaviour’, the complexity and nuances of public opinion and the utility of specifically youth-focused, localised research. This article sets out to address these issues through a comparative public opinion survey of experiences and perceptions of youth ASB conducted in Portsmouth and Swansea. Findings indicate ambivalence in public opinion in both localities both in relation to their own responses to particular behaviours and in the type of system response favoured. Differences were noted by age and gender. A significantly lower proportion of the public were bothered by youth ASB than had experienced these behaviours, alongside ambivalent policy/practice recommendations, ranging from punitive/reactionary (males, older people) to the constructive/promotional (females, younger people).