Never bought a house myself - however if I do I will be spending a few nights curled up in my car parked across the street. Just to see if there are any obvious issues with mental neighbours etc..
Not that this is guaranteed to prove anything - but you should get an idea if the area is pretty peaceful or not.
I would also just knock on 5-10 doors in the surrounding area and ask the people. Why not ?
I also read something recently about surveys etc.. Think it may hev been on here ? Someone saying that getting in individual experts, rather than some overpriced generic surveyor makes a lot of sense.
Couple of hours each and a basic report. Doubt it would cost much more than one of these 'expensive' surveys you can get done.
From my experience that would only work depending on the time of year, I lived in a street that was pretty quite during the winter, but was a street from hell any other time of year. In the summer I counted 20 kids right in front of my house one night, aged from 5 up to early 20s, yet in the winter you could be fooled into thinking the place was a quiet neighborhood.
Your idea of knocking on doors would be a much better one, bearing in mind that the trouble makers would tell you the place is OK.