Case study 1

Anita and Andrew had been immediate neighbours for over two years and got on very well. Anita would occasionally cook for Andrew, and he had helped Anita with her decorating. They were very good neighbours.

Things however changed towards the end of the year when Anita got involved with, in her own words, a 'bad crowd'. Numerous visitors coming and going from her house caused a nuisance by making a lot of noise. The police attended on more than one occasion. Andrew and his four-year-old son were afraid and intimidated by the company Anita was keeping and were constantly disturbed by noise and banging.

By the end of January, Andrew decided he could no longer cope with the constant disturbance, and he and his son moved out of their home, staying for the next five weeks at a friend's one-bedroom flat and sleeping on camp beds in the lounge. The situation was having a huge impact on Andrew and his son, and he felt he had to find somewhere else to live that would be permanent.

In March the case was referred to an independent company in Housing that specialise in using Restorative Justice techniques to bring neighbours together where another has caused one party harm. This is a different approach to mediation, where often it can be difficult to establish who is at fault.

After speaking separately with Andrew and Anita to establish the facts, they arranged for them both to attend a face to face restorative meeting in a private room at a local library. The meeting went well. Andrew told Anita how he and his son had been affected by Anita and her new friends. A discussion followed about what needed to happen to make things better for the future. The meeting lasted for about an hour, and they agreed on the following outcomes:

  • Anita apologised for the upset she had caused Andrew and his son. She accepted how the behaviour of her friends had caused Andrew to feel intimidated.
  • Anita promised that she would not have any further visitors to her property who would cause nuisance and reassured Andrew that she no longer had visitors after 6pm, except for family members.
  • Anita wanted Andrew to know that she would do whatever she could to support him and his son coming back home.
  • Andrew and Anita agreed to meet outside McDonalds at 11.30am on 18 March and A agreed to buy his dinner.

Within a week of the meeting, Andrew and his son moved back home, and he and Anita are working on rebuilding their good neighbourly relationship.