Manually Activated Recording Devices
Manually activated recording devices (or noise nuisance recorders) are used by most local authorities and some social housing providers. One of the main benefits of the equipment is that it enables an investigating officer to capture information in situations where they may have difficulty responding. Once they have gathered this data they will be able to determine whether your case needs to be prioritised. If you fit into this category then you can request that one is provided.
It is important to understand that a noise nuisance recording device will not provide a magic bullet. Whilst they have their benefits, they also have their limitations, for example:
• It will not confirm where the noise is coming from;
• The officer may still insist on witnessing the noise; and
• Their availability can be limited.
Therefore you should always try to get noise witnessed by officers, in person, if that is possible. There is also a mobile phone application that provides a suitable alternative.
It consists of a microphone, trigger (to activate recording) and lockable case (around 50cm long) containing a sound level meter. The device is installed by the officer in a living room or bedroom (bedrooms are often more appropriate) and will require access to a power source. You should make sure that you don’t move the unit or unplug the device from the power source.
Some devices record the sound itself (as a sound file) and the sound levels (acoustic data) associated with the sound. The meters are often set to continually keep a log of sound levels.
Using the Device
When the noise is happening you should immediately press the record button or trigger (some have remote controls and a light will normally tell you when it is recording successfully). This will ensure that the sound is recorded. Press stop when appropriate (it is not necessary to continue recording for extended periods; a 5 to 10minute snapshot at regular periods is usually sufficient). Be quiet during the duration of the noise but you can make a very short commentary at the start or end if you wish (for example, to say whether it is louder or more quiet than previously or when the noise started).
You should not use the device to record conversations or private information but recording of general noise and music is fine.
Once the recordings are complete the officer will organise a time to pick up the equipment and review the recordings. They will listen to the recordings and may download the acoustic data. After their review they may determine whether the issue requires further investigation or action.