Our Noise Officers work seven nights a week from 5pm until 3am. We have two shifts of four nights on, four off. No two nights will look the same, but here's a snapshot of one night in the life of...
My shift always starts by checking who has called in during the day and returning calls. Tonight I'm giving advice to a family who are suffering from heavy footfalls from above. After chatting through their issues, I suggest that mediation would be the best course of action and I complete a mediation referral to pass the case over to my colleagues in the Mediation Service.
Next, I liaise with my colleague in the Community Relations Unit (CRU). They advise me that the perpetrator in a current case has signed an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, agreeing not to have more than five people in their flat or cause excessive noise. The victim is afraid to let officers into her home so the CRU officer asks us to drive by the address if possible to see if noise can be heard from outside the property.
A Housing Officer has emailed to advise they are recovering a tenancy due to antisocial behaviour and requests details of any visits by the noise team in the last 12 months. I check back, complete a complaint history, and send on to the Housing Officer. A Noise Officer may be called to court to speak to this evidence, so it is important that it is as detailed and accurate as possible.
I follow up on a barking dog call from last night. The dog owner wasn't at home so we left a card asking them to get in touch. So far we've had no response, so I go out to visit the property with another officer. This time the owner of the dog is at home. We let the owner know there's been a complaint made about their dog barking when it's been left alone for long periods of time and offer some advice on how to resolve this issue.
While we've been out speaking with the dog owner, another pet-related complaint has come in, this time about a noisy parrot! We head to the complainers' property but on our arrival, the parrot has stopped. The complainers let us know that the parrot often sings theme tunes such as Star Wars, Hawaii FIVE-0 and Coronation Street - entertaining the first time, but not after living with it for several months. Unfortunately it's not performing for us tonight. So, after discussing the problem, we give the complainers a Mediation Service leaflet and explain what they can do to help in this situation. We leave asking them to call if the noise starts again.
A complaint comes in about loud music from a party. It's the fifth complaint in four weeks and two warning notices have been served to the perpetrator. The complainer is happy to allow us to witness the noise from their property and so I set off with my colleague. As soon as we arrive, we can hear loud music. Inside the complainer's living room, we measure the noise to be 44dB, excessive for any time of day.
We understand the perpetrator owns the property. We approach the flat and speak with the householder, issuing a formal warning notice for excessive music, which gives the perpetrator 10 minutes to reduce the noise to an acceptable level. If the noise isn't reduced after 10 minutes, a fixed penalty of £100 can be served. We call the complainer back and they let us know the music has been turned down. As it's the second warning notice in six months, we refer this case on to our colleagues in the Community Relations Unit who can investigate whether an Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO)or other forms of assistance may be required.
We have a break from calls so come back to office to close off complaints and deal with admin. This includes sending a warning by post where we were unable to gain access to the perpetrator's close and informing the relevant housing association.
We follow up on the request from our colleagues in the Community Relations Unit (CRU) to drive by an address we've received a complaint about. We're able to hear low level music from the street and we can see several young people coming and going from the property. As the noise isn't excessive, we can't take action, but we note down the details to pass on to CRU. The occupiers are part of an ongoing case and this breaches their Antisocial Behaviour Contract. The details we've noted down will be useful evidence in their case, further incidents may result in court action for an ASBO!
12pm - 2.30am
We continue to deal with calls as they come in, visiting complainers, offering advice and issuing warnings where required. 2.30am: We return to office to close off complaints and complete any admin, including passing relevant information to our colleagues in CRU, relevant housing associations and partner agencies.