Keeping a lid on nightlife noise

Keeping a lid on nightlife noise

It’s summer, it’s hot, people vie for places to sit outside restaurants and cafés and people spill out from the bars onto the pavement – the weekend is kicking off in Copenhagen.

Photo © Jens Dresling

A noise complaints unit and its two small electric vehicles patrols the city streets until the early hours. And the focus is not on rowdy, anti-social behaviour – that’s police territory – the focus is on helping fed-up residents by keeping down the noise emanating from the revelries.

Copenhagen’s noise complaints unit is not new – it’s been around since 2014, but the number of noise complaints has increased so dramatically, that in March 2017, Copenhagen City Council decided to set aside one million Danish kroner to deal with the problem. From July 2017, instead of the usual Friday and Saturday night, the noise unit, with its extra seven officers, has been patrolling the streets of Copenhagen seven days a week. While noise-plagued residents are pleased with the initiative, they remain sceptical, and doubt whether the additional manpower will really help. As one unhappy resident put it, “When the noise patrol officers drive away, they just turn the music up again.”  

However, the team itself believes that the addition of extra staff has already made a difference, allowing them to deal with more complaints. And apparently, they do go back and check if noise offenders pump up the volume as soon as they drive away. More people on the job also means more time to focus on preventing noise issues. Engaging with outdoor event organizers, restaurateurs and street vendors, explaining the noise rules and offering advice on how to uphold them, all help towards nipping potential problems in the bud. And if that doesn’t work? The answer is simple. “We’ll just close the party down,” says Johnny Svendsen.

* The ground rule is that the noise from a nearby nightclub, restaurant, or music venue, etc., must be = 30 dB before 10 pm and = 25 dB after 10 pm at the nearest residence.

> The council uses Sound-level meter Type 2250-Light to assess the noise in the city