News Shorts And Other Busyness
More Anti-party Legislation In The Pipeline
Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 4.
In a green paper consultation document published in March of this year, the Government announced its intention to create a new criminal offence of playing music at night.
Whilst the sections on raves contained within the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act place criminal sanctions on music and dancing in the open air, these new proposals represent an extension of such control to private parties occurring in people’s homes.
Recommendations contained within the document, backed by both the Department of Environment and the Home Office, also suggest the creation of a specific power of immediate sound equipment confiscation, with a charge to be levied for its return.
At present, excessive night-time noise is dealt with by obtaining a noise abatement notice under part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1980. Only if this abatement notice is ignored can measures be taken to confiscate equipment and fine the perpetrators. In effect this allows a warning period for which the people involved in putting on the party can reconsider both the suitability of the venue and the sound levels, if there are excessive complaints from neighbours.
However, the new green paper suggests that if the noise is judged by an environmental health officer to be a statutory nuisance, it should be an immediate criminal offence punishable by a fine and the confiscation of equipment. Liability for criminal conviction, it suggests, should fall upon either the person responsible for the sounds, or the owner or occupier of the premises from which the sound is being made. The times within which these offences might be committed are given as between 11pm-7am.
The suggestions contained within the green paper obviously represent a serious concern for anyone who either attends or organises parties at which people gather to play music and dance. The recommendation for the level of sound to be deemed statutorily intolerable is a staggering 35 decibels - roughly the sound of a hi-fi system on volume level 3. The so-called consultation process finished on June 30th and the Government are presently considering what legislative form the proposals will take.