Official council statistics dispute rise in anti-social behaviour

Official Newcastle City Council statistics concerning environmental health complaints, obtained by JesmondLocal, point to a decrease in reported anti-social behaviour.

Complaints about loud music have fallen by approximately 80% since 2014, with the number of concerns raised in North Jesmond dropping from 311 in 2014 to 32 in 2016.

Anti-social behaviour reports dropped from 124 in 2015 to 38 last year. General neighbour noise has also fallen since 2014 – with 210 complaints that year – but has risen since 2015, with a further 62 reports made compared to that year.

Neighbour noise is the most complained about issue, accounting for a fifth of all environmental complaints in Jesmond.

The issues of bin collection and litter in Jesmond are well known – 26 complaints were made about litter, 114 complaints about fly tipping and 40 about domestic refuse.

These statistics come at an important time when student-resident relations are called into question. JesmondLocal hosted ‘Common Ground’, a public forum to debate the issues arising as a perceived result of the student population, at Newcastle Royal Grammar School on January 24th.

JesmondLocal’s findings seem to point to the conflict potentially being overblown as the complaints traditionally held against students have seen a marked decline. However, some attendees at the late-January debate claimed they have stopped reporting issues to the council because of inaction.

One of the points raised at the forum was the role of landlords in taking responsibility for their student tenants. It seems, however, that students may well be complaining themselves with dampness and cold complaints rising slightly in North Jesmond.

The pubs and bars of Jesmond also saw relatively substantial rises in noise complaints with 34 being made in 2016 compared to just three in 2015.

One case of asbestos and one case of lead were reported in South Jesmond along with one complaint about a pavement café.

The total number of complaints fell in Jesmond from 941 in 2015 to 787 in 2016.

Top ten complaints in 2016:

  • Neighbour noise – 161
  • Fly tipping – 114
  • Loud music – 57
  • Dampness/cold – 42
  • Refuse domestic – 40
  • Anti-social behaviour (public health) – 38
  • Licensed premise noise – 34
  • Disrepair – 31
  • Litter – 26
  • Request for information (food safety) – 23

12 thoughts on “Official council statistics dispute rise in anti-social behaviour”

  1. PB says:

    Curious how all these articles that bend in favour of the students are written by students. Perhaps JesmondLocal could have a resident who wasn’t a student write an article on this subject matter. I’d happily oblige. I’d start with how one of the 6 tennants upstairs came home mortal drunk at 3:20 this morning and slammed her front door so hard it awoke me with such a startle I jumped from my bed. I exaggerate not that she must have stood with two hands and hurled the door closed with all her might in a deliberate attempt to create the loudest noise. The entire building shook. And others were also woken. She then proceeded to stamp up the stairs. Hardly the actions of a student who wishes to integrate into the community or one who has even a morsel of respect for the people who have worked hard to purchase a property. It’s odd that most of the others upstairs can slip in and out undetected. One can’t help but think the disruptive behaviour is deliberately meant to antagonise.
    Complaints have dropped quite simply because they are futile. Further more, even if they have dropped, the figures mentioned are still astonishingly high!
    I think the students who are studing journalism who write these articles need to work on their unbiased, balanced reporting techniques.

  2. Ed Smith says:

    When did Newcastle City Council’s Night Watch Team close? I suspect that correlates directly with the fall in “Loud Music” complaints. I can’t recall when it closed.

  3. JesmondLocal says:

    Thanks for your comment. However, alongside the reporting of these new statistics, this story also contains context, counterpoint and balance. I’m not sure what else you expect us to do. Our student reporters have also written plenty of stories about incidents of anti-social behaviour committed by students – were they guilty of biased and unbalanced reporting techniques then?

  4. PB says:

    What student reporters have written in other articles is irrelevant. My point is the articles that they have written on this subject appear biased.
    I’m not inclined to concur that the simple insertion of “However, some attendees at the late-January debate claimed they have stopped reporting issues to the council because of inaction.” constitutes counterpoint or balance. Especially being suffixed to a statement proclaiming JesmondLocal, in all their analytical and empirical experience, find that the situation has been ‘overblown’, written in particularly accusatory language toward non-student residents.
    It’s a bit like writing a dossier on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction that reaches several pages, then inserting the words ‘Some people think Iraq don’t have weapons of mass destruction’ at the end and then proclaiming it has been written with counterpoint and balance. Regurgitating what your lecturer told you should be in an article and actually putting it in an article are two separate things.
    Again, another huffy response to one of my comments that reeks of an immature mind taking personal insult.

  5. PB says:

    15th February 2015 was when the Night Watch ended. You can still call in the evening, but the complaint is not attended to until the following working day. Quite obviously the problem will have naturally subsided by then, so the phone call is completely futile.

  6. Ed Smith says:

    That makes sense. So, the article could have the line “council misses nearly 300 complaints a year by closing night watch team. ”

    That being said, subjectively, I’d say there has been a little less litter in the last 12 months. Still bad, just not quite as bad as it was. And a little less noise at my end of things. But we can’t really rely on this data when the access methods have been changed/taken away.

  7. JesmondLocal says:

    Thanks for your latest comment, PB. I’ll try to address each of your points.
    First of all, please don’t worry about us taking this as a personal insult. We don’t respond to many comments, only those that accuse us of not doing our job properly. Imagine telling, say, a doctor that he or she has read an X-ray incorrectly – you’d expect them to want to respond robustly!
    I believe that what student reporters have written in previous articles is entirely relevant – it’s a demonstration of how we have attempted to steer a middle course on this issue and provide unbiased and balanced reporting on the subject for more than six years.
    We established JesmondLocal in 2010 as a “hyperlocal” news service, to explore how the internet and social media might enable journalists to serve a community at a very local level. We all work on JesmondLocal as volunteers, giving up hundreds of hours each year to serve the local community with relevant and helpful news and information but also to train would-be reporters in the importance of responsible reporting of the facts.
    There are lots of “blogs’” out there that focus on opinion and commentary. But we try to steer clear of that and focus on straightforward news reporting. Not always easy, but we try.
    We write news stories, not lengthy reports or dossiers. The primary purpose of a news story is to tell the news. In this case, we were given some fresh statistics about anti-social behaviour, which we’ve been covering in recent months. We decided to run a news story on those statistics, but made sure we added context, counterpoint and balance.
    I disagree with you, PB, that the language of this news story was accusatory. We certainly don’t wish to denigrate the inconvenience, upset and anguish that anti-social behaviour causes residents in Jesmond – and we’ve published plenty of stories about that. This news story was simply reporting new statistics that inform the overall picture of what’s happening across Jesmond. However, on reflection, I don’t think we would use the word “overblown” again in this context, as I’m sure the victims of anti-social behaviour don’t believe their experiences are being overblown.
    I hope this doesn’t sound like a huffy response. As someone who has been working in journalism for more than 25 years for The Guardian, Financial Times, Telegraph and others, I am concerned about the growing attacks on independent journalism, whether at local, national or global levels. Of course, the practices of some journalists and news organisations have invited greater scrutiny – and that’s a good thing. It’s healthy for us all to critically analyse the news we produce and consume. But in my humble opinion, accusations of “bias” or “fake news” are part of the same arsenal of phrases that we, as consumers of news, increasingly use to dismiss facts, statistics and news reports that run counter to our views and opinions. I could say more about echo chambers etc, but I’m sure you understand the point. I realise these are issues that preoccupy those of us who work as journalists and train would-be reporters, but I think it should concern us all.
    I hope that makes sense, PB. Thanks for taking the time to share your views, and please feel free to come back on anything I’ve said or ask further questions.

  8. J says:

    Do these figures include complaints to the university and 101? If not then they don’t really show anything. I am still troubled by noise at the same frequency as I was on 2015 but I no longer contact the council environmental health since they disbanded the night noise team.

  9. PB says:

    Thank you for your long, in depth and carefully drafted response. It must have been an interesting career writing for all those papers.
    If I had the time to enter into dialogue with you, I would, but unfortunately my spare time is currently being spent sound insulating my home from six particularly inconsiderate students.
    I shall continue to read JesmondLocal between plastering, painting and tutting when I get paint on myself.

  10. Chris Stokel-Walker says:

    Hi Jojo – check back on our site in the next couple of days.

  11. Ed Smith says:

    PB are you using gyproc and rock wool with a cavity? And are you doing the chimney breasts?

  12. PB says:

    Hi Ed,

    We’ve opted for resilient bars with accoustic boards. Our plasterer has done a very cool floating ceiling where it goes up to the original coving and leaves a shadow gap. Sealed around with accoustic mastik and then painted in.
    The whole appeal of the place was the original coving and fireplaces, so although a dropped suspended ceiling with rock wool would perform better, we took the compromise between some sound reduction and keeping the features visible.
    We haven’t done the chimney breasts because there are inbuilt lovely shelves on both sides that we didn’t want to remove, also didn’t want to make the rooms feel smaller – plus we use both fires. They do amplify noise but as they’re open and used, I don’t think boarding them would make much difference.
    The noise has reduced, unless they’re being obnoxiously loud together in their communal area. The two girls walk across the floor like elephants.
    There is little we can do for the slamming of the front door, which two of them do deliberately to annnoy us before stamping slowly and hard up the staircase – to the point where their door has cracks all around it.
    This lot are final year students, so they’ll be gone soon. Hopefully their replacements will be a little more considerate. If not, we’ll start looking at using the covenants in the lease as the freeholder of upstairs and other legal angles.

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