Dealing with sporadic and malicious noise problems
The Noise App was instrumental in gathering evidence for legal proceedings to resolve a noise-related ASB problem caused by the deliberate, malicious, targeted tenant actions.
What attracted LiveWest to The Noise App?
As a group, LiveWest housing association manages 35,000 homes covering a wide geographic area in South-West England; they work with a number of local authorities.
Although LiveWest have noise monitoring equipment, deploying this has proved difficult and costly because of the geography. They have also experienced issues with repairs to the equipment and calibration.
Consequently, they would deploy the equipment only in situations where the local authority would not deploy theirs, which led to delays in obtaining evidence.
The Noise App provides LiveWest with greater flexibility at a low cost. It also means they are able to secure information as it occurs, whilst saving time as a result of only having to listen to short recordings.
“We incorporated The Noise App into our normal noise investigation procedures as an alternative to paper based record sheets. Unlike paper record sheets, with The Noise App we know the precise time the records are made, where they’re sent from and have a brief recording to demonstrate the character of the noise..”
- Isle of Anglesey County Council
Has LiveWest shared any cases using The Noise App with local authorities?
LiveWest have had noise abatement notices issued on the back of The Noise App recordings they have sent to the local authority.
In one case, a tenant threatened another tenant; this was recorded and resulted in a noise abatement notice.
LiveWest have had involvement in two cases that used both the environmental health officer and their own officer as separate witnesses to the noise. These witnesses added strength to these cases.
How has LiveWest used The Noise App in court?
The housing association has used The Noise App recordings in a number of court cases over the past 12 months, including civil injunctions, possession and breach cases. These cases mainly comprised noise nuisance from music and deliberate banging aimed at causing a nuisance towards others.
Their approach is to download the information on a disc or memory stick for the court and to include a witness statement, similar to that produced by environmental health in noise abatement proceedings.
An expert on The Noise App has been nominated by the company. This person will normally complete a witness statement and attend court as a witness. We have found that on all occasions the court has not wished to listen to the recordings, having been satisfied with the witness statement.
How was the evidence from The Noise App received by the court?
The officers involved are of the opinion that evidence is well-received by the court, surmising that it helps that they nominated an expert for court purposes (though this is not essential). The expert is not a trained noise expert but is familiar with how the app works.
It has definitely helped to prove noise nuisance, especially where the perpetrator states they do not play music at all.
These cases have mainly been defended, and the defendants have often tried to suggest the noise is coming from elsewhere; however, LiveWest have always been able to prove this is not the case.
They have obtained at least 20 civil injunctions using this type of evidence and have had a number of breaches, which they have proved to criminal standards of probabilities through The Noise App.
It has been established that The Noise App evidence is particularly useful for breach applications due to the burden of proof being higher. We have ended three tenancies using mandatory ground 7a, supported by The Noise App recordings.
“The waiting list on noise monitoring equipment has decreased from 12–13 weeks to no more than 2 weeks within 6 months of introducing The Noise App at Derby Homes. By residents establishing cases through The Noise App the investigating officers at Derby Homes have been able to make a quick and well informed decision on how to pursue the noise investigation case.”
-Derby Homes Housing Association
Has the number of cases of noise nuisance changed since LiveWest subscribed to The Noise App?
LiveWest have found that their customers are very keen to use The Noise App, and this is now our most frequent form of evidence in ASB cases, being used more frequently than diary sheets.
They perceive The Noise App’s most useful aspect as that of being able to address noise nuisance, confidently, with the perpetrator: listening to the noise recorded in their presence helps with their understanding of the impact of their behaviour. This early intervention then hopefully averts any need for court action.
Do it smart
The Noise App delivers simple mobile noise-reporting. The app has been proven to significantly reduce costs for noise investigation services by making it easier to assess noise complaints with better quality data from complainants. The Noise App can cut waiting times for deploying noise monitoring equipment by up to 70%.
The Noise App can help officers to triage their caseload and gives the public a digital alternative to noise diary sheets. The Noise App allows organisations to comply with government digital agendas and it assists with local channel-shifting policies.
All of the case management is done through www.thenoiseapp.com, where officers can work on their cases from any location with an internet connection, a feature that assists with home working. The website allows officers to effectively build a case on the submitted data, allowing for data exports, internal notes and direct communication with the complainant.
Accepted in court
Since its introduction, early in 2015, The Noise App has been used successfully as a means of gathering evidence for legal cases.