21. Memorandum submitted by Neighbours
from Hell in Britain
"Neighbours From Hell in Britain"
(NFHiB) was originally set up as a MSN (Microsoft) Forum back
in early 2002, due to the site creator's personal experiences
with repeatedly anti-social, noisy, inconsiderate and rude neighbours.
The site was set up as the creators found there was nowhere at
that time to turn to for support, information or help.
The original forum was initially set up through
the frustration concerning the lack of resources, information
and legislation around what we term here as a "Neighbour
From Hell" (or "NFH"). The forum was also created
to enable people who are suffering with similar problems to come
together as a voice for change and most importantly as a means
of supporting one another through what can be truly awful times
that are often both physically and mentally exhausting.
Many members have said that just knowing there
is someone else who knows what they are going through does not
make them feel so alone anymore. As having a NFH can be very isolating,
even if people know what you are going through, they do not realise
the impact it can have on your life, the stress it can cause or
the fact it can make you physically ill.
NFHiB receives no funding whatsoever from any
source, although some members have kindly donated small amounts
to help with running costs, the website and the forum has now
cost nearly £2,000 to set up, run and maintain on a yearly
Members have approached different sources to
see if funding can be gained both locally and from the national
lottery fund. Sadly we were told although it is a community group,
as it is not set in one particular area/community, funding is
We feel that it is worth the cost as there is
nowhere else like the NFHiB web site or forum board.
The forum and website are free to use and access,
the only cost is of course the individual's internet charges.
The site and forum board are run by volunteers
who as well as having their own (or past) neighbour problems are
there to freely give advice and support to those who need it.
The members support each other.
It seems that these days there is always at
least more than one member on the forum board, day or night for
those who need support. Often that person who is posting messages
at 3am is there as they are unable to sleep due to their neighbour's
There are now 3,457 registered members on the
NFHiB forum board, some of these people (approx 20) are international
members as they have also found there is no support in their home
The forum board members are mainly people from
the British Isles who have run out of options and need that extra
support and advice.
We try to signpost people in the right direction
to get the help they need. Whether they need to contact the relevant
council departments, the police, mediation services, Landlords
or housing associations etc. The more people can tell us of a
story and their background/course of action to date, the more
likely they are that the members of NFHiB will be able to help
them by offering advice and solutions.
We do ask though that people do not name themselves,
their neighbours or other individuals involved to protect people's
identities and also of course if there might be legal action taken
in the future identifying any persons involvedthis could
jeopardise any trial or legal proceedings.
New members will often compare their situations
to others. Sometimes they feel guilty that they see their problem
as a major issue, which is great to them, but can be a smaller
issue than someone else's. We are very matter of fact about this;
if it's a problem to one person then it is a problem, full stop.
The size of the problem is irrelevant.
Although some NFH situations are similar there
does not seem to be one particular NFH situation which is more
common than others.
Whether it has started as a noise problem, boundary
issue or parking concern, we do see the one continuous factor
that nearly always appears is bullying, harassment and intimidation
from the NFH towards to victim. This sadly can in some cases turn
into assault and criminal damage.
We also see the same sorts of problems with
members trying to solve their own situations.
Mediation is turned down by the other
The police are not aware of the law/action
to take, often saying it is a civil matter or a "domestic"
The police are unable to respond
due to lack of resources and staff; it can take a week in some
cases for police attendance, if they arrive at all.
The Environmental Health Office (EHO)
are understaffed and under funded and often victims have to wait
months for a chance to use noise recording equipment.
In some cases the EHO out of hour's
number is not staffed and answer machines are in place, again
this seems to be due to under funding and staff shortages.
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) are
often unable to help due to the other party attending CAB for
advice and it is seen as a conflict of interests, there is not
always another CAB office in the area that people can attend.
As you can see this is a major problem in Britain and it seems
to be growing alongside the occurrences of anti-social behaviour
It is often families, it is often children and
young people, and it is often older people. It can affect every
social class, from every kind of background. Having a bad or unreasonable
neighbour does not mean you live on a council estate. We have
members who live in million pound homes who suffer from bad neighbours.
We have people whose neighbours are police officers,
lawyers and in one case a magistrate.
Neighbours From Hell all appear to operate with
the same beliefs, eg "I will do as I please and I don't care
if it affects others around me, it's my home and I will do as
Please note: the stories below are individual
accounts of member's experiences of Neighbours from hell. These
stories have been reproduced and condensed. NFHiB can only pass
onto you the information we have been told, we are unable to verify
any of theses stories as true and correct. Therefore all stories
should be read as alleged accounts.
Nature of problem
Sustained anti-social behaviour over two years
consisting of: damage to vehicle, canine faeces through the letterbox,
threatening graffiti daubed on property, youngsters firing guns
in Planet 24's garden.
Planet 24 is an owner occupier, whose vendor
did not disclose the neighbourhood problems on the Sellers Property
Planet 24 is unable to have quiet enjoyment
of their home. Their quality of life (including the stress-induced
deterioration of their physical health) and income has been seriously
affected by the anti-social behaviour.
Steps taken to combat the problem:
Planet 24 is a constituent of the Prime Minister
and has talked to him about the problemsno action appears
to have resulted from this.
Planet 24 has been in contact with multiple
agencies and has ascertained that Acceptable Behaviour Contracts
(ABC) have been issued, but appear not to be monitored. The relevant
authority has not progressed to the use of Anti-social Behaviour
The response of people/agencies has been to
suggest that it would be easier for Planet 24 to simply leave.
A local police officer was convicted of perverting
the course of justice for forging Planet 24's signature on a witness
Planet 24 has made video tapes of the anti-social
behaviour and has been in contact with the media. Planet 24 set
up the Right to Live Peaceably Campaign and set up a petition.
A piece was done for the BBC Video Nation: http://www.bbc.co.uk/tyne/videonation/stor...behaviour.shtml
The local authority appears to be concerned
about the bad publicity that Planet 24 has generated.
Planet 24 has started their own website: www.anti-social-behaviour.co.uk.
The police have systematically failed to protect Planet 24's property.
There have been burglaries and arson. After pushing for appropriate
statutory services to assist, the police inspector agrees to meet
Planet 24 at their home.
The local authority has reneged on offers to
help and has misrepresented information by stating that Planet
24 had declined help, the local authority's solicitor stated that
there had never been a letter sent. Planet 24 has taken this up
with the Chief Executive Officer.
Planet 24's case was referred to the Home Office
who were going to raise the matter with the local authority. A
Commissioner was instructed to interview the local authority
Director of Neighbourhood Services agreed to
visit Planet 24 at home to discuss the problems, they were provided
with details of 118 incidents suffered. They said that anti-social
behaviour is for the police to deal with, not the local authority.
Director of Neighbourhood Services only briefed on problems at
a very late stage.
Victim Support have been involved and advised
Planet 24 not to leave their property unaccompanied.
Planet 24 believes she is being "stalked"
by the police and council, as she has recently had threatening
emails and messages from over the internet. Concern was raised
on our own forum board as a new member was asking specific questions
about her case and no one else's. After Planet 24's story was
moved to a protected area of the forum the new member who had
been asking questions about her story asked for their account
to be deleted, which it was.
Nature of the problem
One family have been terrorising the neighbourhood
for two years along with groups of youths and young adults.
Late night parties, loud thumping music, gangs
of about 30 yobs congregating outside of houses early and late
evening, smoking drugs, urinating in the street, alcohol cans
and bottles smashed all over the road, damaging neighbours' property,
abusing neighbours verbally, joy riding with their vehicles mounting
the kerb, fighting etc.
The area is mainly occupied by the elderly members
of the community.
The police are contacted every time there is
a disturbance; they offer sympathy and little else as they appear
to be unsure of the steps they can take.
The council are in the early stages of ASB policies
and demotion orders, as a council and not for this one particular
family who seem to be causing the problems.
Neighbourhood watch started.
Residents/tenants association involved.
Quote from Sunray: "I have had meetings
with my Council and if I am to be honest I found them to be very
weak in their approach." However. . . "My Local Police
Force are totally the opposite and are extremely positive, if
they had their way at this stage NFH would be out of the Neighbourhood
This story is ongoing.
Nature of the problem
Situated in the North of England in a mid stone
Arguments between the couple next door which
started in the evening and finished at approximately 4 am each
Dog howling for hours a day when it was left
Music at all times of day and night at very
Rubbish all over the communal gardens, from
where they had dumped things including beds, furniture, cardboard,
rubbish bags with food (which the foxes found and ripped open).
Abuse screamed through the walls and outside
How it started
It started the night they moved in by drilling
to put curtain poles up at 2 am.
The arguments were a daily occurrence, they
were approached and it was explained how thin the walls were and
they were being told to save embarrassment.
The dog, who howled every time it was left alone,
was also mentioned, in a reasonable manner, "You will not
know this as it happens when you are out but your dog gets very
distressed". This is when the abuse started to build up.
The longest the dog howled was seven hours non
stop, causing major distress to e.bethuk's own dog. In turn making
her dog bark, due to the first dog howling.
Animal abuse was witnessed committed by the
male of the house by three sets of neighbours (throwing bricks
at the dog and kicking the dog). e.bethuk heard the dog being
abused once and her husband went to see if it was ok, the dog
at this point had been "kicked" out of the house and
was wandering the streets with no collar or lead growling at people.
Abuse towards each other was also heard and
witnessed. The damage caused to the rented house was severe and
they had to return to carry out repairs on three occasions after
they had actually moved out.
One night an ambulance was called to their house
as "he" had put his hand through a mirror trying to
As the situation continued the victims were
subjected to having abuse shouted through the walls at regular
intervals ie: write this down you ***** ****, and why don't you
record this you******** followed by screaming and loud music.
On one occasion the good neighbours of e.bethuk
reported that the NFH had stood outside her front door screaming
and pulling faces, at the time there was no one home!
The effects it had
It affected both victims' sleep pattern, lack
of sleep made them upset and irritable.
Mr e.bethuk was studying at university for a
DipSW and Nursing qualification and had to take a year out due
to "cluster migraines" caused by the upset, stress and
constant noise from next door.
Both victims were taking medication to help
with the stress.
It was suggested that e.bethuk took sick time
from work, but she pointed out to her manager that if she took
sick time then she would be at home where the problem was and
it could in fact make her more poorly.
People contacted to help
The EHO regarding the noise: given sound recording
The dog wardenregarding the dog noise
and the dog wandering the streets on its own and fouling the area.
The landlord of the house, who didn't believe
the victims. He said it was their word against his tenants and
why should his tenants lie to him. Incidentally he was a solicitor.
The EHO and the dog warden witnessed the noise
the dog made but said even though they had heard it; it could
not be used as evidence as it was against the NFH's human rights.
The human rights of the victims appear not to be considered.
Recording equipment was eventually installed
and on the second day of recording the NFHs were moved out as
they were unable to pay the rent on that property.
The landlord apologised to e.bethuk and her
husband saying that he had learnt that in fact they were a problem,
as they couldn't pay the rent on that property; he had moved them
to one of his cheaper properties to regain the rent arrears. As
soon as they moved homes the problems in that area increased due
to the one couple.
The landlord also changed the locks to his house
as he said the NFHs had been seen hanging around.
E.bethuk and her husband do not see this story
as a success as the system was not the reason the NFH moved out
but the fact they had not paid their rent.
Leyton Orient's (LO) story
Joined NFHiB July 2003 and his story is ongoing.
Nature of the problem
After one neighbour attacked LO on his own property
(November 2001) (resulting in an assault charge on LO from the
man who attacked and threatened him and a court case which LO
won), LO's other neighbour who was friendly with the first neighbour
has taken it upon himself to continue the harassment towards LO
and his family. This neighbour is a policeman.
The first neighbour has now moved but the harassment
by the police officer continues.
LO's NFH has damaged his property mainly in
the garden, damaging plants and the fence and then denying all
10 September 2004
This harassment has now resulted in LO being
hospitalised for three days after his NFH policeman attacked him
for "looking at him",
Quote from Leyton Orient: "Despite me putting
up no resistance he injured me so severely that I suffered a broken
and dislocated elbow, very severe bruising and was in hospital
for three nights as a result of my injuries! And it was me who
LO has made a complaint to the Independent Police
Complaints Commission and has contacted his MP.
LO believes the NFH is telling untrue stories
about him as he is now being harassed by groups of youths claiming
he is a paedophile.
LO has been told by people, who are unwilling
to make statements that his policeman NFH has been telling people
that LO, a single man in his 40s, has been staring at his children.
17 September 2004
LO is informed he is to be charged with resisting
arrest, the NFH policeman was off duty at the time.
This means the neighbour issues now have to
be put on hold due to LO's bail conditions.
Quote from LO:
"I did not resist arrest for three reasons":
1. "He broke my elbow almost instantly
and I was in no position to resist".
2. "I knew he was a Policeman, black
belt in Judo and Martial Arts Instructor so I wouldn't have stood
3. "I deliberately didn't resist as
it could have got me into trouble had he been hurt".
30 September 2004
LO met with his MP.
His MP has written to the police.
25 November 2004
LO has been charged with disorderly behaviour
and resisting arrest. LO has pleaded not guilty and has bail conditions
attached to him.
NFH is trying to provoke LO into an altercation
so he breaks the bail condition of having no contact with NFH
or NFH's family.
LO has now moved out to stay with family 90
miles away to avoid the policeman NFH.
LO has recorded and logged all harassment and
intimidation against him from the NFH, the police have said there
is nothing they can do as no crime has been committed.
29 November 2004
LO has finally won the right for legal aid.
This case is ongoing and has been very stressful
for LO. He is on medication to help with the stress and has had
to leave his home for a while due to his neighbour trying to intimidate
him. This is for his own safety.
The first neighbour from hell started this ball
rolling by attacking LO on his own property sadly the first neighbour
was friendly with the second neighbour from hell who has not only
victimised LO but has actually attacked him breaking and dislocating
his elbow, remembering that this man is a policeman, someone who
is supposed to keep the streets safe from such crimes, still LO,
who you would think is the victim, has been charged criminally
and is awaiting a court hearing in December.
The members at NFHiB have tried to help as much
as possible, sign posting him in the right sort of direction,
but LO is finding this very difficult as the police seem reluctant
to help as it is "one of their own" who is the NFH.
Harassment/assault/intimidation by neighbour
Neighbour with known violent background and
Criminal Conviction for blockading a Bank with a vehicle and threatening
to burn both car and bank.
"Caldas" subjected to:
Threatening, abusive and aggressive behaviour
Being chased by a vehicle driven by NFH; tailgated
and forced off a motorway.
Foul; obscene and abusive language.
Responses by the authorities
Quote from "Caldas"The Police
are institutionally opposed to getting involved in what they discount
as a `domestic'".
Civil action taken
1. Court Injunction to restrain NFH behaviour.
2. October 200318 day trial, NFH
sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for one year, for
breaching the injunction.
3. NFH ordered to pay costs and damages,
at about £62,000. Charge placed on NFH property at Land Registry
4. July 2004Appeal by NFH regarding
a breach of his Human Rights, rejected by Court of Appeal. Additional
£12,500 costs awarded.
5. October 2004 payment for damages received
by "Caldas'" solicitor.
Private home-owners face a battle
for recognition by any public Authorities when subjected to harassment
and anti-social behaviour.
Many NFHiB forum members face similar
problems/issues as "Caldas" but do not have the financial
resources to pursue civil action, even though they appear (from
the information given) to be guaranteed a successful outcome and
thus be awarded damages and compensation as a result of litigation.
Fear of failure of any litigation;
continued intimidation and fear of reprisals by NFH and their
acquaintances lead many NFHiB members to sell their homes and
move, at reduced cost due to having to declare an NFH on SPIF
Solicitors will not work without
payment, usually on a monthly basis and Legal Aid is not available
for those in employment with some savings.
"Dizzy's" Story (female)
Joined NFHiBAugust 2003.
Living in a rented flat.
Three years of verbal abuse.
Telephone line of one property cut.
NFH fixed CCTV in hallway opposite "Dizzy"'s
"Dizzy" locked out of communal hallway.
Rubbish pushed through letterbox.
"Dizzy" scared to provide a statement
for landlord in case of retaliation.
November 2003 Attempted eviction,
through court, by landlord. Judge rules statements "not official
enough" and rejected repossession.
February 2004 Further attempt at
eviction for non-payment.
March 2004 parents of NFH paid rent
arrears, despite NFH receiving housing benefit.
August 2004 NFH successful eviction
for rent arrears using bailiffs.
Action/response by the authorities
None, apart from a chat with NFH by the Police
after telephone line cut."Insufficient evidence and
will not apply an anti-social behaviour order".
Inaction by Police due to lack of
proof, not willing to explain what proof is needed.
Difficult to evict tenants from privately
Legislation covering use of CCTV
unclear and, at present does not appear to cover recording devices
used by private individuals even those which seriously impact
on their privacy. This lack of clarity leads to inaction by the
Police and continued invasion of privacy by NFH.
Length of time taken for any successful
Difficult to get advice locally,
isolated until found NFHiB.
Fear of reprisals from NFH when making
a statement about their behaviour.
Unusual to see a successful eviction
and action by private landlord.
"Dizzy" unable to take
civil action due to insufficient funds.
Joined NFHiB February 2004
Harassment/assault/intimidation by neighbour
Background on arrival at NFHiB
Late 2001 bought semi-detached propertyimmediate
noise from next door (two flats).
All night parties with loud music both inside
property and in rear garden at least twice a week; foul language,
fighting, and broken windows.
Subjected to verbal abuse, threats and harassment;
Daughters aged seven and five not willing to
use garden without parents.
Following assault of "JustJo" NFH
arrested and bound for 6 months on a good behaviour bond.
NFH action since Feb 2004
Burning candles left on doorstep.
Continued harassment, threats; abuse and property
damage as above.
eg May 2004 = 17 incidents of noise/aggressive
behaviour between the hours of 11 pm and 4-5 am. 10 of these incidents
have crime numbers.
Response by the authorities
Advised to speak to neighboursno
Noise Log sheets given to Environmental
Heath Department of Council +recording equipment used, no immediate
action taken against NFH.
Contact council re nuisance barbecues,
told that "too many complaints make complainant lose credibility".
Willing to attend but "JustJo"
family advised"cannot even instigate harassment procedures
as there are three of them and it is never the same one who causes
the trouble and it is always directed at us as a family not an
No response to 999 call made 2300
pm 19 May 2004.
Intervention of more senior Police
Officer, at request of "JustJo" family and following
advice from NFHiB, led to prosecution for harassment.
June 2004 all three NFH arrested
and charged with harassment.
Case adjourned from August until
NFH #1 pleaded guilty given two years
conditional discharge and ordered to leave the property.
NFH #2 pleaded guilty to 17 counts
of harassment; bound over for two years. Subject to a restraining
NFH #3 pleaded not guilty. Found
guilty; £150 fine and two year restraining order.
Having secured evidence of a number of complaints
to the Council by Vendors of the property re noise nuisance "JustJo"
family taking civil action against vendors for misrepresenting
property at the time of sale.
6 November 2004: Barrister's advice re civil
action against vendor estimated to cost in excess of £50,000
action is proceeding due to devaluation of property despite successful
Limited advice available for householders
suffering from NFH.
Local Council unwilling to take action
on behalf of private householders.
Private householders need sufficient
funds to attempt to prosecute NFH or Vendors for misrepresentation.
Length of time taken for any action
on the part of the Police = three years.
Non-response to 999 calls re abusive
and threatening behaviour.
NFH on benefit living alongside privately
Not a typical result on terms of
Police prosecution, more usual that no action is taken.
Why is it that victims suffering
from NFH get so many conflicting responses from the authorities?
Should there not be one law for all? Nationwide?
And whose fault is this? Are the
Home Office ensuring that every single local authority in the
country is aware of procedures and powers?
Why it is that people like us have
to fight for something that is supposed to be legally ours anyway?
(By this I mean the right to enjoy our homes in peace)
If possible could you ask them what
they intend to do when they move "nfh" next to normal
peoplebasically they have to live somewhere but why do
we have to be blighted by themno compensation just grief
that we have put up with and become "victims".
Would welcome helping NFHiB in any
way I canI am out to show that the system is in overload
because LA don't tackle the problem when it starts.
30 November 2004