Police should intensify ‘noise nuisance’ campaign Editorial
Kaieteur News
July 7, 2004

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Congratulations to Commissioner of Police Winston Felix and the Guyana Police Force for their move to clamp down on nightspots that fail to keep the volume of their music down. This action should be expanded to include other types of ‘noise nuisance’ offenders.

Last week, police in Georgetown warned several nightspots to keep the volume of their music at a reasonable level. Police reportedly seized the music equipment of at least two nightspot operators who allegedly failed to comply.

For long-suffering members of the public, especially those unlucky enough to live near nightspots that play offensively loud music, this is a long overdue and most welcome campaign. Hopefully, the current campaign will not follow the pattern of many similar police campaigns that slowed to a halt after an initial flurry of intense activity.

It is an open secret that nightspot owners only turn down the volume of their music for the duration of a police campaign against loud music. They pump it up again full blast the minute they suspect that the campaign has lost momentum or has ceased altogether.

To stamp out this type of noise nuisance once and for all, the police need to move with more sustained force against nightspot owners than they have done in the past. First, the police need to make a powerful public statement of zero tolerance against offensively loud music, preferably by taking stern action and making examples of a few high-profile offenders. Second, and most importantly, the police need to show beyond any doubt that they will keep up this campaign for as long as it takes to get all nightspot owners to comply.

Seizing the music equipment of the popular Palm Court and Tropicana nightspots was a strong and timely move by the police. As a result of the publicity generated by this police action, other nightspot operators should be a lot more cognizant of the possible consequences of playing their music too loud. To consolidate this move, the police will now have to convince nightspot operators that the current campaign will be for the long haul and cannot be avoided by temporary compliance.

While the police action against the noise nuisance perpetrated by nightspot owners is most welcome, the police should also take strong action against noise nuisance by minibuses, open-air shows and religious gatherings.

Most minibuses are chronic, mobile noise nuisances. Police have tried several times in recent years to control offensively loud music in minibuses, but the problem still persists. In previous campaigns, police made some headway by targeting the sound equipment in minibuses. However, they lost ground when the campaigns ran out of steam too early. This would be a good time for the police to redouble their efforts to stop loud music in minibuses and to maintain intense pressure until the problem is alleviated.

Open-air shows are another major source of noise nuisance. As highlighted by a letter in this issue of Kaieteur News, these shows pose a problem of two dimensions: noise and content. The nature of such shows is unavoidably intrusive and this must be carefully managed. Before giving permission for such events, the police must ensure that conveners will keep the volume of their sound systems at a decent level that will not unreasonably disturb nearby residents. The police also need to monitor the content and duration of such shows to prevent persons who live in proximity of these events from being exposed to sights or sound that is unwelcome and offensive.

Another perennial noise nuisance problem is that of certain church gatherings. Very often, the ‘faithful’ at these events act as though they have a God-given right to make as much noise as they want, whenever they want and for as long as they want, simply because it is a church function. They do not seem to care if their noise disrupts other persons in the neighbourhood. The police should go after these noisy churches with the same intensity as they go after nightspot owners.

Let us give the police our full support as they try to keep unwanted, unreasonable noise out of the ears of the decent law-abiding citizens of Guyana.