Out of Office Hours – Noise at Night-time
Many people who come to us for help suffer from noise at night-time; be it due to the noisy neighbour, misfiring intruder alarm or noisy pub. As such, many noise issues don’t fit into the 9 to 5 office hours pattern that public services tend to keep.
Unlike the emergency services, and some health and social services teams, local government and housing associations are generally most active in the day-time. There are some Councils who field 24 hour response teams, generally larger city areas, and some who provide weekend noise services. However, at a time when resources have diminished the number of Councils able to provide permanent services during the evenings, nights and weekends are a minority. That is not to say that all local authorities should be expected to field a 24 hour service for noise; this would clearly be beyond the need or capability of many.
So what should they be doing and what level of service would be deemed acceptable?
The law is clear. Local authorities have a duty to investigate allegations of statutory nuisance that are put to them. Whilst they do not always have to witness the noise directly themselves (in the flesh) it is recommended that they do so in order to secure the strength of their evidence (after all, the enforcement action they take may always be appealed). There are ways to respond to noise cases though and prioritise problems that are perceived as “higher risk” (more likely to be a problem). In our tutorial (see our Resources) we explain how you get categorised as being in the high risk bracket and how you can get the investigating officer focused on your noise complaint.
Without a dedicated out-of-hours service to witness noise at night-time the way the investigators will respond to individuals will depend upon differing circumstances. Smaller teams (generally made up of a handful of officers with other responsibilities) may organise themselves in a variety of ways, including:
- Weekly on-call rotas for priority cases;
- Weekend noise call-out service (focused on the busy Friday and Saturday nights);
- Summer services;
- A series of planned visits for priority cases; and
- Organised visits to monitor ongoing problems (such as with commercial noise).
If you are unhappy with the service provided by your local authority and feel that they can take, or could have taken, action to help we have some more detailed guidance in our member service. Find out more about what times noise may be deemed unacceptable.