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Reporting a planned event

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

What to do if you become aware of an event before it happens

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.

Perhaps you saw preparations, received a note from your student neighbours, or they came in person. At the very least, ask the organisers some questions. Don’t ignore the warning signs and hope for the best. Once a party gets going, it’s hard to stop. ​Many parties last until 4am or later and some attract 100 guests or more. So it's better to act now.

Step 1: Questions to Ask

  • If you got a note through the door: Express your concerns directly to the people who sent the note, especially if it doesn't answer key questions mentioned below. Use a phone number, if they gave you one, or ideally speak to them in person if you feel safe to do so. Team up with a neighbour if you can.

  • If they came in person: Sometimes one of the students (often the prospective 21st celebrant) knocks on your door—possibly even bearing cake or other gifts. Don’t be so disarmed by this thoughtful act that you forget to ask key questions or register a protest. If you do forget, don't be afraid to contact them again.

  • If you saw preparations: Typically these include windows being covered on the inside with mattresses or cushions (a futile attempt to keep sound within the building); party lights going up; drinks arriving; several large black boxes (loudspeakers) being delivered, followed by a “sound check”. The last one typically happens a few hours before the party. Again, speak to the students face to face if you feel able to.

Key questions to ask:

  • What time will it start and finish?

  • How many people do they expect to attend?

  • Will they be hiring doormen, sound equipment or a DJ? A 'Yes' to any of these suggests a loud, (very) large party that will last into the early hours.

  • Have they cleared this with their landlord/agent? (The answer will be No, but it gives you an excuse to ask who the landlord/agents are, if you don’t already know.)

  • Who else have they told? (Often, they will have contacted far fewer people than are likely to be affected, especially by a big party. Houses at the rear of theirs are usually forgotten about completely.)

Assume the event will be longer, larger and louder than their answers suggest and be sceptical of any promises to control behaviour. Organisers of student parties often make such pledges (with total sincerity) but usually fail to keep them—they are inexperienced hosts, unwilling to confront friends, and often are unable to control who turns up at the house. In any case, they will be busy enjoying themselves and too drunk to care by the time it matters.

Show them my UoB Rules document and discuss it with them.

IMPORTANT: If you agree to their plan, or do any kind of “deal” to try to mitigate the impact, make clear to them that you can only speak for yourself and other neighbours may not agree. And a special plea: If you plan to be away on the night in question, please pass details to a neighbour, so someone else in the street has a chance to take action.

Step 2: Get help If you’re worried about this planned party, contact any or all of the following as soon as possible. If it's already Friday afternoon, you might have to act quickly to catch people before they leave their offices. See How to Complain for contact details:​

  • The University. Email the community liaison officer. He may contact the students and advise them to rethink, and/or flag the event to the police and council.

  • Landlord or managing agents. They probably are unaware of the party and won't be enthused about it; ask that they contact the students and tell them to change their plans. A clause in the tenancy agreement probably prohibits noise after 10pm or 11pm. If the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the licensee is bound by law to try to ensure the occupants don’t disturb neighbours. (See a council guide to landlords, here.)

  • Council noise officers (Neighbourhood Enforcement Team). They’re difficult to get hold of but they do have powers to take pre-emptive action if an event is expected to cause disturbance. They also have a formal joint working protocol* with the universities. If you have a day or two’s advance notice, try contacting your local councillor(s) and ask for help in mobilising NET if you haven't been able to contact them yourself. (Check with the university CLO: he or she might have already spoken to NET.) *Go to the Resources page and look for "NET Protocol 2023" in the Document Library. You can view or download the document.)

  • Police. Ring 101 and ask to speak to a local beat officer. They might visit the students and register the community’s concerns. They might also be grateful for advance notice of something that may generate calls to the police when it happens.

Other steps: If the event goes ahead, deal with it on the night as you would any other Night-time noise, including collecting evidence. And afterwards, you and your neighbours should put in formal complaints to university, landlord and agents. (See How to Complain).

September 2023



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