When the actions of students negatively impact the local area, what can happen?
Our responsibility to the local communities we live in.
We are all part of the community that we live in, and should take a few moments to consider the impact and contribution we can make to our neighbours' lives.
Non-student households usually have a different routine and expectation in the way that they want to live compared to students. The impact of students living next door may be noise, disturbed sleep/nights, poorly maintained houses/gardens, rubbish not disposed of properly, or inappropriate behaviour - all of which, over time, will make even the most patient person start to resent the weeks when students are in residence around them.
You might be the model student/tenant but, if those who have gone before you have not cared who they upset or thought about their actions, your neighbours are unlikely to be welcoming and their tolerance levels for poor behaviour will be reduced – meaning that more complaints will be made.
Where do complaints about students go?
The main places complaints about students go to are:
They will investigate and issue enforcement notices if they believe there has been unacceptable behaviour which breaks any of the relevant laws on noise, behaviour, rubbish disposal etc.
What action they take will depend on the specific laws that are being broken - to illustrate how quickly it can become very serious, see below what happens if you are issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN).
Community Protection Notices can be used to encourage responsible behaviour aimed at improving the quality of life for residents, covering antisocial behaviour through to failures to maintain premises. It is a simple process, providing that an authorised person is satisfied on reasonable grounds that:
- the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality; and
- the conduct is unreasonable.
In these instance, a CPN can be issued.
What happens if you are issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN)?
- Before a CPN can be issued, a written warning will outline that, unless the specified conduct stops, a CPN will be issued.
The amount of time to comply with the written warning will vary and it is for the issuer to decide - it could be immediate if it is for something like singing loudly in the street, or a few weeks if a garden needs to be cleared.
- If the written warning is not complied with, the CPN can be issued requiring the conduct to change.
It is possible to appeal the issue of the CPN to the Magistrates Court within 21 days of the CPN being issued.
- Enforcement of the CPN
The Local Authority can decide how they want to enforce the CPN if its terms are breached:
- By issuing a fixed penalty notice.
- Issue the offender with a caution (guilt needs to be admitted and the caution accepted by the offender)
- Prosecution in the Magistrates Court, punishable with a maximum fine of up to £2500 (current level November 2016). These proceedings should be commenced within 6 months of the alleged offence.
If there is evidence to suggest that a crime has been committed, the Police may arrest and investigate, which could lead to criminal charges being brought and prosecution through the Courts.
The University will investigate the allegation and take disciplinary action if necessary.
People may take action to make their feelings understood and known - e.g. become politically active to ensure the Local Authority enforces its powers more tightly against students, or by being more vigilant (e.g. targeting all students with abusive behaviour).
If you have complaints made against you, what should you do?
- Decide if the complaint is valid - if you are in doubt, get advice.
- If the complaint is valid, engage with the processes used against you - if you feel you need support or advice on this then seek help.
- If you feel there is no basis to the complaint, get advice on what you can do before attending any meetings or engaging with any processes - however, be careful you don’t miss any key dates or deadlines.
- Whether you think the complaint is valid or not, try to consider your behaviour and any impact it might have on those living around you so that you don’t attract further complaints.
Places to get Advice and Assistance
- The SU Advice Centre
T: 02476 572824
- Your Personal Tutor, Departmental and/or Faculty Senior Tutor, Dean of Students.
- If you are being prosecuted, you should seek legal advice from a solicitor or other qualified legal professional.