101 is the new national number to report crime that is not so serious.
Let’s say that there are children playing in your street. You might be annoyed by what they do. You can report your concerns via 101.
What happens if the situation gets worse?
Children have a right to socialise, to play, even to overstep the mark sometimes (how else do they learn?).
Others have the right to live in peace, to enjoy their own home and privacy.
Tolerance and Respect are lanes of a two-way highway.
However persistent nuisance can amount to a criminal offence. Apart from common law breach of the peace or the Public Order Act, the Protection from Harassment Act offers two paths of protection-civil and criminal.
The civil route involves applying to the County Court for an Injunction. If granted and if breached the defendant can be fined or jailed for up to 2 years.
The criminal route starts with a report to the Police. The Police may arrest and interview anyone aged 10 or older.
At this point I should emphasise that the suspect has the right to independent, free legal advice and, despite what the Police might tell you, instructing a Solicitor does not mean you are in custody longer than otherwise would be the case. The Solicitor must attend within 45 minutes of being told the interview is ready to proceed. More proactive Police Officers will agree an interview time with a Solicitor. The reason Police Officers tell the suspect about the purported delay is to stop the suspect getting legal advice.
Of course, parents should know what their children are up to and with whom they associate. I’m aware of a situation where parents drive their children to another part of Newcastle to let their children wander around with other children.
Is it poor parenting or absent parenting?
In some areas arbitration or mediation services can arbitrate or mediate between neighbours. You need to ask your Council or Housing Association or Trust if such services are available.
The other problem is that people can be so frustrated at persistent nuisance, at the lack of parental control or concern when it is mentioned and at the lack of response by the Police that they take matters into their own hands. This can lead to an escalation that is disproportionate to the problem.
So what should happen?
Tolerance and Respect-children should socialise and play, adults should be tolerant. Children should be aware if what they do affects others. Why not socialise indoors? If your parents can’t put up with your noisy friends, then why should your neighbours?
Parents should take control and parent. Not being your child’s best friend is probably the best place to start.
Contacting the Police should be the first resort. If Police receive reports they can assess how serious a problem is becoming. Suffering in silence leads to frustration and to an escalation. Dial 101. The Police can then intervene.
Ultimately if the problem persists then the Police may have to take legal action.
What I don’t understand is what is so great about hanging about in a group of 20 plus making noise for the sake of making noise rather than finding a field and playing sport. Perhaps some form of constructive, organised leisure time could address these issues.