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Unlocking Noise Problems

5th May 2020 The Noise App

The Covid-19 epidemic continues to have major implications for all aspects of life in the UK. Whilst the lockdown controls have helped to contain the outbreak, the restrictions have given rise to many challenges. One has been the surge in complaints of noise pollution and anti-social behaviour. The Noise App is proving invaluable in enabling over 230 public bodies to continue to investigate and deal with reports of noise nuisance submitted by members of the public. Not only does it enable these organisations to effectively discharge their statutory duties, it also ensures that the health and safety of officers isn’t compromised, by allowing assessments of the problem to be done remotely. Cases can be quickly triaged and the type of response determined and prioritised, with the appropriate intervention chosen so that resolution can be secured.

In addition to supporting frontline services, The Noise App is capturing UK-wide data about life under the lockdown and yielding important trend information. This has been shared with Defra and the Welsh Government to inform national assessments. A number of issues have emerged:

  • Compared to early February 2020, overall UK reporting volumes during the Covid-19 lockdown have increased by 58.3%, with a 48.1% rise in new complaints.
  • The hourly distribution of noise reports highlights a peak period between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am.
  • Late at night, most complaints relate to music, loud voices and antisocial behaviour.
  • During the day, music and antisocial behaviour continue to be a problem, but noise from animals is also a significant irritant.
  • In some areas, noise reports have remained at levels close to those in previous times. However, many local authorities and housing associations have seen notable increases in complaint levels, some in excess of 200%.

With people spending so much more time in their properties, relationships are inevitably strained and behaviours can become unreasonable. Higher levels of anxiety can also lead to individuals being more sensitive to noise from outside their properties, resulting in a greater inclination to complain. Mental health issues, domestic abuse/violence, alcohol consumption and gambling are public health issues of increasing concern. The longer the lockdown restrictions are in place, the greater the potential for disturbances and disagreements to occur. The Noise App will assist agencies to monitor and assess the level of problem and then decide what needs to be done to prevent longer-term disharmony between neighbours and in communities.