Towards a better night’s rest
July 18, 2004
Residents around Georgetown and its environs could now sleep better at night following the stepped up campaign by the Guyana Police Force to eradicate the noise nuisance created by businesses playing loud music way into the night.
The police have a special team that is dedicated to dealing with the noise nuisance.
The law is clear that for a business premises to play music, it must first have a license to do so.
“Over a period of time, a lot of people have been opening businesses but do not take out the requisite licencing to play music,” a high-ranking police officer attached to the team said. “We are now clamping down on these businesses and the campaign has been successful so far.”
Under the Noise Nuisance Act, for the court to successfully prosecute an offender, a complainant has to provide a statement.
The police officer said this has proved to be a bugbear since persons are unwilling to come forward to testify in court.
“This makes it look as though the police are doing nothing about the problem,” the police officer said.
One of the popular spots that have suffered as a result of the campaign is the Everest Cricket Club.
With its new dispensation, the police have begun to refuse permission for shows there, featuring singers and loud music sets.
This is because of the ground’s proximity to the St Joseph’s Mercy Hospital.
The police have received complaints that the noise emanating from such shows bothers the patients at the hospital.
The police officer, who requested anonymity, pointed out that even though businesses are granted licence to play music, it is not a licence to disturb others in the neighbourhood.
“Businesses cannot impinge on people’s right to sleep. Once a report of disturbance by loud music is made, we will act on it,” the police officer said.
The lawman stated that there are some businesses that obtain music and dance licences through improper means.
These businesses will be targeted by the police.
The correct procedure entails the business to make an application to the Chief Magistrate and the police officer in charge of the district.
The process takes fourteen days.
During the fourteen-day period, the business has to publish its intent in the daily newspapers for four days.
Copies of the application must be placed inside and outside of the premises.
Based upon the findings, the Chief Magistrate could either issue or deny the applicant a licence.
The shut off time for the music is also at the Chief Magistrate’s discretion.
The police have placed a number of popular businesses before the court, which have allegedly flouted the law pertaining to noise nuisance.
Their equipment have been seized and lodged as evidence.
These include Jay Pees Recreational Club at Barr Street and Stanley Place, Cool Square in West Ruimveldt, Jerries on Camp Street, Palm Court Restaurant and Bar on Main Street, Sheriff Night Club and Tenessee Night Club on Sheriff Street and Bollywood Night Club at David Street and Stanley Place.
The police officer said special attention is being paid to Jerries as there have been numerous complaints about the level of noise emanating from the patrons who frequent the business.
One of the notable complainants is CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, who resides on the opposite half of Camp Street.
On many occasions the police arrest and charge minibus operators who play their boom-boom boxes, and confiscate their equipment.
However, when they appear in front of a magistrate, they would be reprimanded and discharged and the police would be ordered to return the equipment.
“The police are trying to bring about law and order and these people are only given a slap on the wrist,” the police officer said.
Penalty for those found guilty is another area of concern for the police.
Under the Noise Nuisance Act, the penalty is a $1,000 fine for the first offender.
On the second offence, the person is fined $2,000 and a mandatory jail term of three months.
The police officer reasoned that for the noise nuisance campaign to be more effective the judiciary and legislators have to collaborate to ensure the antiquated laws are updated and appropriate sentences handed down.