Case study 22: Woman spends over £10,000 trying to fight unreasonable CPN

A lady in Hackney over the years has been issued with multiple notices, which include multiple CPWs, two CPNs and a noise abatement notice. Unable to get legal aid, she has spent over £10,000 trying to defend herself from all the notices, £3000 of which was donated by kindly neighbours supporting her.

The issue began when the adjoining property’s cat kept coming into her home and attacking her cats. After several exchanges of letters between herself and the adjoining property, the local advice centre told her not to respond to the neighbours. The neighbour made complaints about her to the council, which led to her receiving a Community Protection Warning in 2016 (for actions including opening and closing her back door to let her cat out). The neighbour from the adjoining property is a barrister and represents local councils in noise pollution cases.

The lady’s home is in a state of disrepair and some of the issues – such as a faulty drainage system, which caused multiple floods to her property and the adjoining property – go back as far as 1998.

The lady concerned has been diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), which she says has been used against her by the council.

Over the years, she says she has experienced abuse at the hands of some neighbours – including being verbally abused, assaulted, having items stolen, and her car windscreen smashed with a brick in the early hours of the morning. Her car has been targeted multiple times by bins being pushed into it. Her plants have also been maliciously damaged, dirty rubbish has been thrown on them, and she is regularly called names such as ‘fat bitch’ and ‘asbo slut’ in her back garden. Rubbish and bags of shit are thrown into her back garden on a regular basis, including cooked chicken bones, plastic cups, joint butt ends and empty cans of drinks, socks and shoes. Some tenants encourage their guests to verbally abuse her and encourage them to do this especially when outside her front door.

The council would not inspect any of her evidence in relation to the abuse she was experiencing from the neighbours. Instead, the police issued her with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) for causing harassment to her neighbours, citing an incident in which she said ‘Are you happy now?’ to one of her neighbours.

She hired a legal team to represent her in the CPN appeal. Unfortunately, they had little expertise in this area. She was poorly advised and each route she pursued appeared to be the wrong route. The CPN was varied by the judge, but the police continued to pursue her with the CPN, and the police included neighbours she previously had good relationships with.

She has had complaints against the police upheld in relation to the issuing of the CPN. The CPN was eventually removed by a police officer in 2019.

In 2019, the noise abatement notice was served on her by the same council officer for a noise that is created by a water system in the neighbouring property. The council refused to provide her with an expert to investigate the source of the noise and instead instructed her to get an expert of her own. Her environmental health expert identified the noise being created by the neighbouring property, who was complaining about the noise. The expert said the case was the worst abuse of process he had seen in 45 years.

During his investigations, the environmental health expert installed recording equipment and cameras, to gather evidence. However, the council would not meet with the expert or discuss the situation with him, neither would the neighbours.

The adjoining property and immediate neighbours did not like the cameras or the investigation because they identified ASB towards the lady. The housing management agent then reported her to the police for criminal damage for installing the cameras. The police investigated the complaints and spoke to the expert. The police stated there was no case to answer in relation to the cameras being installed, and there was no criminal damage.

Despite the expert findings, the council pursued the lady, issuing her with warning notices and a CPN for the actions of her environmental health expert. Because she could not afford legal representation, and was ill and unable to attend her CPN appeal, the council pursued her with a CPN breach notice. Currently, she is not allowed to use her disability aids inside her property, and she is banned from working with the environmental health expert. She was recently found guilty of the breach of the camera CPN, for failing to remove them because she was unwell, which has incurred further costs and expenses including paying the accusing neighbours a victim surcharge.

Much of her life over the past few years has been taken up defending herself against CPNs and other notices from the council as well as living under siege from some of her neighbours. The CPN has clearly not resolved a neighbour conflict, but rather has aggravated it and led to the growth of a vendetta against a woman with CPTSD who lives on her own. This has had serious negative implications on her wellbeing. The woman believes that the housing management agent and her neighbours are attempting to get her evicted and feels that she has to constantly defend herself both against the neighbours and the council worker.