This page presents my advice. Users must make their own judgment. If you complain in person to people creating noise, try to remain calm and business-like, and avoid inflammatory words or action.
When night-time noise is happening NOW
Summary: This page covers night-time noise at an address, particularly parties. If the noise is part of a recent pattern of disturbance from the same address, also read the Frequent Disturbance page. For random street noise, go here.
Once a party has started, it’s hard to stop. Only the police can help at night. It’s 50-50 whether they will, unless Operation Beech is on duty. Bristol City Council has no night-time response. Ditto the universities. However, if you talk to the students concerned they might reduce the noise (that's more likely at smaller events than bigger ones). In the morning, you can send complaints to the university, landlord, etc. Read on:
Step 1: What’s happening?
Gather some basic information:
Date, time, what can you see and hear?
What’s disturbing you: music, shouting, unruly behaviour in street?
Are they students? From which university?
If it’s a party, are doormen on duty?
How loud is it? (Can you hear it 20, 50, 100 yards away?)
How many people are present?
Is the event contained inside a house, or are people also making noise outside in the street, garden or forecourt?
Are there people in the street shouting, fighting, urinating or damaging property?
(If there is serious disorder and you or others feel threatened, ring the police on 999. Stay inside and skip Steps 2 and 3.)
Step 2: Go and Complain
Assuming the serious concerns underlined above don’t apply, it may help to talk to the students directly, provided you feel safe to do so. If you can’t do this, skip to Step 3.
Team up with a neighbour if you can. At the address, ask to speak to an organiser or tenant (not the doorman, if present, and not just the first student you meet):
Stay calm and avoid inflammatory comments.
Explain the effect the event is having on you.
Ask which university they are with (if they decline to answer, don’t worry).
Explain the University of Bristol rules on parties, as in this document; rules for UWE are broadly similar.
Make some requests, depending on the situation. Ask them to:
Turn the music off, or at least down (not audible in the street)
Close windows, especially in the room the sound gear is in
Direct guests who are outside to go back into the house
Tell guests to be quiet when they leave (when will that be?)
Say you will send a complaint to the university in the morning, and the extent to which they meet your requests will influence what you say. Tell them what kinds of penalties they might face, as in the document above.
Step 3: Getting Help
The only body that can respond to a night-time disturbance is the police. (Whatever a police call handler may say, Bristol City Council doesn’t have a publicly accessible out-of-hours service and doesn’t respond to “one-off events” such as parties.)
Does the event justify calling the police? If it’s relatively minor, sending a complaint tomorrow to the university and landlord may be more appropriate. In that case, go to this link.
If you decide to contact the police, these are the options:
Text Operation Beech. This is funded by the University of Bristol and provides officers tasked to deal specifically with student noise—but it only operates at certain times and locations. (Click here for details.)
If Beech isn’t available, phone the police on 101. The call handler may say police don’t deal with noise incidents, or that it’s the council’s responsibility. In fact, the police do sometimes turn out to noisy parties. They have powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, which includes noise. (See article.) Plus, they can deal with public disorder in the streets, so if people are spilling onto the pavement or roadway, drinking, vomiting, urinating, shouting or being unruly, you should report this at the top of your call, rather than just say “I want to report a noisy party”.
The police may or may not attend, depending on how busy they are. There isn't much more you can do right now apart from (if you have the stamina) continuing to monitor what's happening. An event that doesn’t justify a call to the police at midnight may do so at 4am when people are gathered in the street waiting for taxis.
Step 4: Contacting Me
If you need help or advice, email me (Andrew Waller) at firstname.lastname@example.org. I generally check my inbox until around 1am.
Step 5: Afterwards
The morning after these disturbances, you should register a complaint with the relevant university—go to this link.
Version: September 2019