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Site principles & privacy

I write articles about relevant news developments. I also often express my own comments. I try to distinguish between factual reporting and opinion. I also record complaints about noise incidents that are sent to me voluntarily by residents. I follow these principles:

  • Journalism: Since this is my background, I try to be objective, fair and factual. I will correct any factual mistakes brought to my attention. I try to be transparent in what I do. I believe I'm reporting on matters in which there is a legitimate public interest.

  • Incident reports: I report on noise incidents based on my own observations, information from people I trust, corroborative accounts from other residents, or a combination of these. I also record complaints submitted to me voluntarily by residents; I often have no way independently to assess the truth of these, but I do use various means to test whether the complaints are genuine. The purpose of both kinds of reports is to show the extent of the problem and to highlight the real impacts on residents.

  • Data privacy, and storage: I store details of properties identified in incident and complaint reports in an offline database. This includes house numbers, and enables me to identify properties that have a history of complaints. I don't publish the house numbers on the website. I had extensive discussion with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in 2018 and believe my use of data, both now and in the past, complies with the law.

  • Student focus: I am concerned exclusively with student noise. From time to time I reject reports if I judge there are insufficient grounds to suspect that students were involved. And I may withdraw reports if later information suggests that the noise was not caused by students.

  • Names: I don't name students involved in noise incidents—this site is not about "naming and shaming", and never has been. I rarely know students' names, unless they have emailed me (which they are welcome to do) or someone else has included a name in an email to me (I'd rather they didn't include names). In any event, I don't store this information in any database. I also don't name residents who send me information about incidents. I occasionally name residents in news reports if they are representing a residents' group. I also have a list of subscribers that contains names, email addresses and partial location information of people who signed up to receive my email newsletter.

  • House addresses: From the site's inception in 2018 until January 2019 I included house numbers in published reports. I believed this was justified by legitimate interests, and still do (nor did the ICO say otherwise). However, it proved unnecessarily controversial, which was counter-productive. So I stopped including house numbers and removed those already published. As noted above, however, I retain house-number information in the complaints database I keep offline. In published incident and complaint reports, I rely on the street name, date, and approximate location to indicate where an incident took place. Residents sending me an incident or complaint report should continue to include a house number in their email so I can be sure to match their comments to the right event (especially, for example, when two events happen in the same street on the same date); I will edit out the number for purposes of publication. The purpose of storing house numbers in an offline database is to identify trends, including properties with a history of repeated complaints. I have occasionally used such analysis to help residents make a case to the authorities, or the university (at their request) to identify hotspots for possible action. I believe these to be legitimate interests that justify my storage of the relevant data.

  • Leafleting: After a noise incident, I may leaflet nearby houses to find out who has been affected. If residents send noise reports to me, whether in response to a leaflet or not, I may quote from those emails in compiling a report for publication. I don't identify the residents who have emailed me. (If ever there was a need to do so, I would ask permission first.)

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