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Night-time noise that’s happening now

Parties or other noise taking place at an identifiable property.

These notes present my advice. Users must make their own judgments and consider their own safety. If you complain in person to people creating noise, try to remain calm and business-like, and avoid inflammatory words or action.

Once a party has started, it’s hard to stop. Your best bet is Operation Beech—if it’s on duty. If you ring the police on 101, it’s 50-50 at best if they will respond. Bristol City Council has no night-time response. Ditto the universities. However, if you talk to the students concerned, they might reduce the noise (more likely at smaller events than bigger ones). Later, you can send complaints to the university, landlord, agent, etc. Here’s what to do right now.

Step 1: Gather some basic information

  • Date, time, location: what can you see and hear?

  • What’s disturbing you: music, shouting, unruly behaviour in the 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 any of these things are happening and/or you or others feel threatened, contact Operation Beech or ring the police on either 101 or 999, depending on severity and urgency. Stay inside and skip Step 2.)

  • Collecting evidence: With a view to submitting a complaint, you may want to gather evidence with your smart-phone. Read Collecting Evidence.

Step 2: Go round and talk to them

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, go to Step 3.) Team up with a neighbour if you can. At the address, ask to speak to an organiser or tenant (not a doorman or the first student you meet):

  • Stay calm and avoid inflammatory comments.

  • Say the event is unreasonable in a residential setting, that it breaks university rules (see UoB Rules link below) and almost certainly is a breach of tenancy conditions.

  • Explain the effect the event is having on you.

  • Ask which university they are with (if they won’t say, see Step 4).

  • Explain the University of Bristol rules on parties, as in UoB rules. (Rules for UWE are broadly similar.)

Make some requests, depending on the situation. Ask them to:

  • Turn the music off (yes, ask for that—you may get lucky, particularly at smaller events). Failing that, ask for it to be turned “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. You might also say you intend to contact Operation Beech.

Step 3: Getting help

The only people who can respond to a night-time disturbance are the police.

  • Operation Beech is funded by the University of Bristol and provides officers tasked to deal specifically with student noise—but it only operates at certain times.

  • If Beech isn’t available, you can try 101, but the usual response will be that noise is a council responsibility. What 101 won’t tell you is that Bristol City Council doesn’t have a publicly accessible out-of-hours service and in any case doesn’t investigate “one-off events” such as parties. So unless this falls under the heading of Repeat disturbance, the council won't help you and 101 is sending you on a wild goose chase.

  • Despite all this, the police sometimes do respond to parties (perhaps if they’ve had a lot of calls?) They have powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, which includes noise. Plus, they can and should 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”. If there’s serious disorder, call 999.

At this stage, there isn't much more you can do right now. If you have the stamina, you can continue to monitor what's happening. An event that didn’t justify a call to 101 at midnight may do so at 4am when very drunk people are gathered in the street waiting for taxis. You can also continue collecting evidence (see earlier link).

Step 4: Complain

The following day (or indeed that night), register a complaint with the relevant university. You should also copy your complaint to either or both of the landlord and managing agent of the property. Go to How to Complain for further details.

It may be useful to check with neighbours and see if they were also disturbed. If they were, encourage them to complain too—your accounts will be mutually supporting. (If you live in an area with a lot of students and a high probability you will need to complain at some point during the year, see if you can set up a WhatsApp group with neighbours.)

September 2023




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