Neighbourhood problems

Neighbourhood problems

Find out how best to deal with antisocial behaviour, damage to property, fly-posting and nuisance or noise from neighbours and businesses.

Antisocial behaviour

Antisocial behaviour is behaviour which causes alarm, harassment or distress to another person.

This is a broad definition but it generally involves antisocial behaviour targeted at a specific person or group of people and is usually persistent.

The council has a range of powers to tackle antisocial behaviour, which are aimed at ‘putting the victim first’. We work together with other organisations such as the police and social landlords to tackle incidents and protect our communities.

You can help us to do this by reporting incidents and providing any available evidence to support an investigation. 

Public Spaces Protection Orders

Consumption of alcohol in public spaces

On 20th October 2017, the restrictions placed on the consumption of alcohol in certain areas within Northumberland which are currently dealt with under the provisions of various Designated Public Places Orders (“DPPOs”) made under the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 will become restrictions under the provisions of Public Spaces Protection Orders (“PSPOs”) by operation of section 75 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, full details of which are contained in the following Notice:

Notice of DPPOs to PSPOs

Copies of the DPPOs referred to in Schedule 1 of the above Notice and which will now be treated as if they were PSPOs may be viewed at the links below:  

Dog Control

To find information on Public space orders for dogs click here
Reporting an incident
If someone’s life or health is threatened, or a crime is in progress, call 999 and alert the police. This can include, but is not limited to, activity such as criminal damage, assault, theft and threatening behaviour.

Antisocial behaviour can be a one-off incident, such as a piece of offensive graffiti, but often it is a series of low level incidents which, when they continue, can become very distressing. If someone else’s behaviour is having a negative impact on you or your family and is causing you alarm, harassment or distress: If the problem is only related to noise nuisance, read our advice in the statutory nuisance section.

All complaints are confidential, so you don’t need to worry about your identity being revealed. We can also accept anonymous calls providing we have enough information to investigate the incident.
What information do we need?
In order to investigate we need details of all of the issues causing a problem. It is helpful to know:
  • how long the problem has been going on
  • how regularly it occurs
  • the location of the problem
  • if it tends to occur at a particular time
  • who is affected
  • any details you have about the person who is causing the problem
If you or the person causing the problem live in a rented property, it may be helpful to liaise with the landlord to help to resolve the problem so it is useful to know the tenure of your property.
What will the council do?
Once we’ve collected all the information we need from you, we’ll provide you with a contact officer who is responsible for investigating your complaint and will keep you updated.

We may liaise with the police, social landlords and other tenants to get a better understanding of the issues and corroborate the allegations. We may also speak to the other party if they are known, with your agreement, to see if the problems can be resolved informally.

In some cases we may seek the views of other residents in the area, to see if anyone else is experiencing similar problems.

If we conclude a problem does exist, we will take action to resolve it. This may be an informal agreement, mediation, a warning or it could lead to a formal intervention using our legal powers, including a civil injunction or community protection notice. 
I reported anti-social behaviour but nothing was done
If you have reported anti-social behaviour and feel nothing has been done, let us know.

You may be able to activate a ‘community trigger’, which means an impartial case review will take place. This means we will evaluate the action taken by the organisations involved and decide if this was a sufficient response to your problem.

If it was not we can identify further action that needs to be done to help you. This is whether you have reported the problem to us, the police or your housing provider.

The community trigger is activated if:
  • you’ve reported anti-social behaviour to the council, the police or your landlord three times or more in the past six months and no action was taken
  • you and at least four other people have reported the same issue in the past six months to the council, the police or your landlord and no action was taken
Complete the community trigger form if you feel your case meets one of the above criteria and we’ll respond in three working days.
  • Alternatively, you can email CommunityTrigger@northumberland.gov.uk, call 0345 600 6400 or write to  Community Trigger, Public Protection Department, Local Services, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF.
Please note that this is not a complaints process. If your report has been investigated and you’re not satisfied, please use the complaints process for the agency you reported to.

Statutory nuisance

This section provides information on how to report a nuisance relating to noise, odour, light or smoke.

 

The law
The law on statutory nuisance relates to the behaviour of a person on their property, which interferes with another person’s enjoyment of their property. Details are set out in part three of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The act includes powers to deal with unreasonable noise, odour, smoke, accumulations and light from both neighbours and businesses.

Noise from construction and demolition sites are dealt with in a different way, so see this webpage. 
Garden Fire and the Law
The law generally allows people to have a bonfire at any time of the day providing that the smoke given off from the fire does not cause a ‘statutory nuisance’ to other people's premises.
The law relating to statutory nuisance is set out in The Environmental Protection Act 1990 s.79 - s.80.
 
In assessing nuisance officer would look to the severity of the problems the fire was causing for example the amount of smoke created, where it was drifting and the effects it was causing in other people’s property.  Additionally we would consider how often the problems occur and how long they go on for when they do occur.
 
Generally for a nuisance to be suffered the smoke from the bonfire must affect other people's premises to such an extent that normal use of those premises is not possible. Conditions that may give rise to a statutory nuisance could be:
  • smoke entering people's houses
  • smoke blowing across gardens and preventing normal use of the garden
  • smoke affecting people's washing or
  • hot ash and cinders landing on people's property.
Additionally, where the effects of the fire have a detrimental, unreasonable and persistent  effect on a locality they could be classed as anti-social behaviour and action such as a Community Protection Notice could be taken under the Police, Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2014.
 
Under the Highways Act 1980 a person responsible for lighting a fire which causes smoke to drift across a road faces a fine if it endangers traffic. (Please contact the Police for further information if these circumstances arise).
 
The Council would normally discourage the use of garden fires for disposing of waste as there are several more appropriate methods.
 
Click on the link for further  information on disposing of household waste, bulky waste, hazardous waste and garden waste. There is also information on composting and recycling.
What you can do
If you are concerned about statutory nuisance you can:
  • Talk to the person causing the problem, as they may be unaware the behaviour is disturbing you.
  • Contact specialist officers at the council who can advise you and investigate the matter if necessary.
Investigating complaints
Investigations into nuisances will assess:
  • how severe the problem is
  • how often it occurs
  • how long it lasts for
You will normally be required to complete a log or diary for a period of two to three weeks to prove these details.

Officers will assess the diary to decide if the problem requires further investigation. If so, efforts will be made to try and obtain more detailed information. This will be by installing equipment to record the problem or visiting your property to see it first-hand. If the problem is very severe, officers will attempt to visit the property more quickly.

This information will then be assessed to decide if the problem is serious enough and whether there is sufficient evidence to deal with the matter as a statutory nuisance. If so, the person responsible will be given a legal notice which requires them to stop or reduce the activity to a level where it does not cause a nuisance. This could be effective immediately or by a notice period.

The person who receives the notice has a legal right to appeal against it. Therefore, officers need to be able to provide evidence in court, such as results of monitoring, log sheets or witness statements.

If a problem is found to not be a statutory nuisance, officers will discuss approaches to improving the situation. However, this is an informal process and does not require the person responsible to participate. You can obtain independent legal advice on this matter.

In some cases, statutory nuisance is only one aspect of a problem that could include abusive, threatening or antisocial behaviour. Officers will still be able to give advice and investigate these matters as part of, or alongside, a nuisance investigation.

Damaged & defaced property

Here you can find out how to report damage to property, graffiti, fly-tipping and fly-posting.

Please use the appropriate section for reporting, otherwise you can contact us here.

Damage to council property
Criminal damage is defined by the police as follows:

“Criminal damage refers to crimes where any person, without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages any property belonging to another. Activities resulting in non-permanent damage (i.e. that can be rectified, cleaned off or removed at no cost) such as letting down car tyres, should not be classed as criminal damage, nor should accidental damage.”

Damage to a council property on the other hand covers crimes against households and household property including cars.
Graffiti - reporting and removal
We will remove graffiti from any property in Northumberland. A small fee may be charged in some cases. We’ll also ask the property owner to sign a disclaimer, as the removal process can sometimes damage certain surfaces.

We aim to remove any obscene graffiti within 24 hours of receiving a report.
Fly-posting – unauthorised advertising in public places
Fly-posting is the unauthorised display of an advertisement in any public place. It’s illegal to attach posters or any form of advertising to signs or street furniture, like lampposts or park benches. We will remove any fly-posting we find and legal action may be taken. 
Fly-tipping
Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of waste. It can cause a range of problems for people, animals and the environment.