When Neighbour Noise Leads to Violence
We are so often reminded through the stories in the press of how often noise issues can result in, or be associated with, aggressive or violent behaviour. Dozens of people have died in recent years after being involved in a dispute about neighbour noise. So many neighbour noise cases appear to be ending in violence. We once reported on a horrific attack of one disabled man who dared to complain to his neighbour about his barking dog; and often highlight the fact that anti-social behaviour and noise pollution can lead to violence.
However, despite the reports of violence and terrible newspaper headlines, the number of people harmed in neighbour disputes about noise is minute if you compare it to the number of complaints that are made to local authorities each year; a whopping 500,000.
Mental health issues are clearly a significant concern when it comes to noise (be it the poor health of the perpetrator or the sufferer). Inappropriate living conditions, particularly in relation to densely populated accommodation, can have an influence on poor health; as can, in some cases, social isolation.
One of the main outcomes provided by environmental health services, now continually stretched and often under resourced, is the protection/reduction of mental health and well-being through noise control and improvement of housing standards. It is important that, where mental health issues are already a factor involved in noise cases that they liaise with social services, social landlords and other health professionals if it is deemed appropriate.
Alcohol and drug issues also play a significant part in the causes of anti-social behaviour. Dealing with the route causes can help prevent or reduce nuisance and it is important that investigating authorities don’t just address the symptoms of anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour legislation now encourages enforcing authorities and social landlords to find positive solutions to anti-social behaviour.
We know that intervening in a noise issue can sometimes result in confrontation if not completed carefully. If your neighbour has not displayed examples of aggressive or threatening behaviour, and is in good health, you should not be afraid of approaching them. However, the way you approach your neighbour should be considered carefully beforehand. Do everything you can to avoid confrontation and remember that ongoing issues (regular noise incidents) do not have to be settled on the night of the disturbance. Avoid visiting late night parties or approaching groups of people; particularly if drugs and alcohol are involved. Pick a suitable moment later in the week and use a calm and friendly tone.
Never use sound to retaliate over noise issues as this may result in a counter claim and damage your chances of resolving the issue amicably.