The number of call-outs for York Council’s environmental protection unit has seen a dramatic increase in demand in the last 12 months after officers have been inundated with hundreds of calls from victims.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post have shown that the unit’s noise patrol received 1,148 calls over weekends and made 611 visits – up 10 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Senior officers from the service say the problems are affecting all communities, with middle class and middle-aged householders among the guilty, dispelling myths that the worst offenders are students and the unemployed.
The council’s environmental protection manager, Mike Southcombe, who also manages and participates in the noise patrol service, said: “The public’s perception is that there are only certain sections of society who are responsible for noise problems.
“But the reality is that there is no specific sort of person who is to blame. There are a significant number of problems from middle-aged people who think it is their divine right to hold a party at their homes.
“They think they are absolved of any responsibility if they have slipped a note through their neighbours’ doors to let them know they are having a party.”
The tough line stance which is being adopted by the council has begun to pay dividends as the actual number of complaints has begun to reduce as the noise enforcement unit has targeted repeat offenders.
The environmental protection unit received 1,631 complaints about noise in 2012/13, which was down from 1,824 reports in the previous financial year.
The largest source of complaints which the council has had to deal with was noise from residential premises with 1,319 cases ranging from loud music and parties to excessively loud televisions, radios and computer games, as well as shouting and banging.
The unit also received 195 complaints about barking dogs, 121 about licensed premises, 107 from other commercial premises and 81 about intruder alarms. Other problems dealt with by enforcement officers include noise from construction and demolition sites.
The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that one offender who plagued his neighbours for up to eight hours at a time by blasting out music by foul-mouthed rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg had been fined. Robert Masuku, who repeated the behaviour for more than a year, will now face a legal bill of more than £1,300 and has had his stereo system confiscated.
Masuku, 37, of Lowfield Drive, Haxby, York, carried out the anti-social behaviour from February 2012 until January this year.
Warning letters sent to him were ignored, and following more complaints in February this year officials served a legal notice on him to turn the volume down.
And the enforcement squad has been faced with a series of cases where the noise has been so loud that it has affected whole estates as well as villages on the outskirts of the city.
Mr Southcombe said: “We have seen an increasing number of call-outs in recent years because more and more people are opting to hold parties at their homes, instead of going out in town because of the ongoing issues with the economy.
“But this is not to say that they should be allowed to simply carry on and affect their neighbours in the way they have.”
The city’s noise patrol service was established in 2006 and its officers have been responsible for a series of successful prosecutions across York.
In the last financial year, officers from the environmental protection unit served 29 noise abatement notices, witnessed seven breaches of the notices and made four seizures of stereo equipment.
The council can prosecute repeat offenders with a fine up to £5,000 for homes and £20,000 for businesses, as well as seizing any equipment involved in causing the problems.