University, council, and police join forces to tackle anti-social noise

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On 17th February, Durham University announced a new Anti-Social Noise procedure to help residents of Durham report anti-social noise caused by students. The plans were formulated alongside Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary and aim to codify the action that can be taken if a student property is making too much noise.

The new procedure allows for any resident of Durham city to call 101 — the police non-emergency number — and issue a complaint if they believe the anti-social noise is coming from a student property. Complaints will then be passed on to the University Security Community Response Team (CRT) who will visit the property to encourage residents to reduce noise and prevent future instances of antisocial noise.

The new procedure for reporting excessive noise will come into force with immediate effect and, in an email distributed by college principals, students are encouraged to keep noise to a minimum between the hours of 23:00 and 07:00.

“This new procedure recognises the fact that tackling anti-social behaviour is everyone’s business […] I am sure local residents and councillors will be pleased to learn their voices and concerns have been heard loud and clear”

Joy Allen — DurHAM POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER

Inspector Dave Turner, from Durham Constabulary, said: “We understand that noise disturbance can be highly distressing for those who have to listen to it. We would urge everyone to be respectful of the area in which they live to prevent late-night noise being an issue to others.”

CRT team members will be trained to take an ‘engage, explain, encourage’ approach, which involves engaging with the noisy household, explaining the effects of antisocial noise, and encouraging students to comply with any recommended actions to reduce such noise.

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen said: “This new procedure recognises the fact that tackling anti-social behaviour is everyone’s business and reflects the importance of adopting a problem-solving partnership approach. I am sure local residents and councillors will be pleased to learn their voices and concerns have been heard loud and clear.”

Students should be aware that if the situation escalates, the team will also be equipped with body cameras. Any bodycam footage obtained by CRT members could be shared with Durham County Council, who may issue a Community Protection Warning (CPW) or Community Protection Notice (CPN). Failure to comply with a CPN can lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecution.

The University may also pursue complaints under its Non-Academic Misconduct Procedure.

Durham University’s CRT team is made up of University Security staff and was initially introduced in the 2020-2021 academic year to support compliance with Covid-19 regulations. Now that these regulations have been mostly removed, the CRT team has widened its remit to include responding to noise reports made to 101. They operate seven days a week during term time, between 21:30 and 03:30 and undertake regular patrols of the city.

“Anti-social noise can be disruptive to neighbourhoods. Where anti-social noise is a significant problem, we will support Durham County Council in pursuing cases”

Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Durham University

This comes after years of tension between Durham students and local residents. When Palatinate recently interviewed Richard Hornby, the Chair of the Gilesgate Residents’ Association, regarding plans to replace Gilesgate’s Apollo Bingo Hall with private student accommodation, he highlighted that differences in lifestyle could cause tensions. “The closest existing properties to the development are bungalows for elderly residents, whose lifestyle and waking hours are naturally very different to those of students, which could lead to conflict.”

Existing initiatives that seek to tackle anti-social noise include the “Shh… 11PM-7AM” campaign, as well as a requirement for students to sign the student pledge when they begin their studies. This pledge includes the agreement that students will, “be a good and considerate neighbour while living in College or within the wider Durham community.”

Furthermore, the livers-out code of conduct specifies: “Excessive noise at any time, but particularly late at night, is very un-neighbourly and can cause great distress. […] If you have a party at your home, remember to inform your neighbours and to promise them that it will finish at a reasonable, and specified, time. Think about inviting them to your party.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Jeremy Cook said, “We encourage our students to be good citizens and considerate neighbours and the vast majority wish to be a positive part of the Durham community. However, we recognise that anti-social noise can be disruptive to neighbourhoods. Where anti-social noise is a significant problem, we will support Durham County Council in pursuing cases, and taking any necessary actions.”

Image: Mark Norton

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