Neighbour disputes have sky rocketed in Spain during lockdown as police record a 70 per cent rise in complaints about loud music, shouting, dogs barking and loud TVs at ‘ungodly hours.’
IN Barcelona, authorities have been forced to set up mediation services to try to deal with ‘noise nuisance’ conflicts.
Police data from Barcelona, in particular, show that during the State of Alarm, complaints have soared, although in most cases they have been resolved through mediation and without the need for sanctions.
With people locked up in their homes for five weeks, police sources say incidents in the empty streets have plummeted, but have been replaced by disputes between neighbours forced to live in close proximity.
The increase in rows over noise has led to many authorities setting up mediation services to avoid Local Police being saturated with dealing with neighbour disputes rather than focusing on combating the spread of the coronavirus.
The move is also aimed at reinforcing the agencies that dealt with these sort of issues before the pandemic.
In the case of Barcelona, conflicts between residents hiked 68 per cent in the first weeks of isolation compared to last year, with noise and music accounting for more than half of all complaints.
The city’s police force has dealt with more than 5,000 such calls, which now also relate to disturbances caused by construction works.
Its reinforced Neighbourhood Police Teams, which are responsible, among other things, for managing neighbourhood disputes, have intensified their work by up to 174 per cent since the start of the State of Alarm.
In L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, the police have responded to more 1,000 complaints, and impose 45 sanctions, “given that most of the actions have been resolved through dialogue,” according to sources in the city council.
In Badalona, the demand for mediation due to “prolonged coexistence” has increased by 75 per cent, with the town hall setting up a specific telephone helpline to deal with complaints.
The town of Sabadell has also experienced a sharp increase in these conflicts, 57 per cent, reporting many between members of the same family.
The vast majority of incidents occur at night, and councils are reminding that while the first penalty is around €150, repeat offenders will be hit with fines of €600 – the same as those who imposed for repeatedly breaching confinement restrictions.
Authorities are calling on the public to “try to respect the basic rules of coexistence in order to make what for many is becoming an unbearable situation more bearable.”