The government is looking to introduce plans to allow police greater powers when dealing with noise nuisance.
Noisy neighbours could be handed fines of up to £2,500 under plans unveiled by home secretary Theresa May yesterday (May 22) in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Under the proposed regime the police will be given greater powers to tackle anti-social behaviour including noise nuisance, littering, dog fouling and ‘yobbish’ behaviour.
The plans will condense 19 existing powers into just six new ones. The proposals are detailed in a White Paper published by the Home Office, called ‘Putting Victims First: More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour’.
The White Paper explains that at present noise nuisance falls under the preserve of local authorities, many of whom don’t have out of hours services meaning complaints cannot be tackled immediately. This means that many residents turn to the police to deal with the nuisance. In 2008/09 the police were called out 88,317 times to deal with noise nuisance.
The police, says the Home Office, currently have limited powers to control noise, however the proposed regime would allow them to issue a community protection notice to stop persistent noisy behaviour, rather than simply attending an incident or referring it.
Failure to comply with the notice could result in a criminal sanction which could result in a fine of up to £2,500. However, the police would have the option of issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice rather than pursuing criminal action.
The White Paper says that the community protection notice could tackle issues not currently covered by the nuisance regime, for example: it could be imposed on those who regularly take the same route home late at night whilst drunk and making noise which wakes their neighbours or on a takeaway restaurant which persistently allows its customers to be noisy outside its premises late at night.
The powers are designed to help improve the quality of life and give victims more power to force action against those that blight communities.
Commenting on the proposals, Mrs May said: “Many police forces, local authorities and social landlords are working hard to deal with these problems. However, too often, the harm that antisocial behaviour causes, particularly when it is persistently targeted at the most vulnerable people in our society, is overlooked. At the heart of our new approach is a fundamental shift towards focussing on the needs of victims, rather than the type of behaviour.
“It’s time to put victims first. That’s what this government will do. Our new plans aim to give victims the chance to have their problem dealt with immediately. We will slash the confusing and cumbersome legislation that leaves victims without a voice and police without the ability to really tackle the problem. Police and local agencies will now have clarity and the powers to come down hard on those who inflict anti-social behaviour on others.â€?
In addition to plans to increase police powers, the government is also proposing to introduce a ‘community trigger’ which would give victims of nuisance and anti-social behaviour the right to demand that the agencies who had ignored repeated complaints take action.