Finally, the government has created a policy that is universally supported, regardless of political affiliation.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, announced plans to crack down on repetitive, unimportant, disruptive announcements about trains.

He also stated, “There will also be new curbs for the maximum.” [volume]At which point will the remaining announcements be heard… [your]Journey a little easier’

Grant Shapps (pictured) has announced a plan to clamp down on infernally repetitive, pointless and disruptive announcements on trains

Grant Shapps, (pictured), has announced that he will take action against infuriously repetitive, pointless, and disruptive announcements made on trains

According to the Department for Transport background paper, rail passengers were subjected to “contradictory” calls to lower volume on their devices, and onboard announcements blast out.

However, Mr Shapps is not the only one who disagrees. RMT Union immediately protested that it might have been a ruse to make staff leave trains in order to support the Government’s larger cuts agenda.

Regular passengers will be most annoyed by loud announcements that play in a continuous loop. These are not real guards responding to an actual problem such as an unanticipated delay.


While I am not trying to exaggerate here, the repeated repetition of noiseless instructions in penal environments could be considered torture. 

For example, this is the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighurs in their “re-education” camps.

Once you hear the meaningless phrase, “See It, Say It, Sorted”, blaring out for the millions of times, you will be compelled to shout, “Shut up!” In train announcements, however, you can’t hear anyone yelling and your resistance is futile.

The Bill is the joint effort of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel (pictured), and the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab

Priti Patel, Home Secretary (pictured), as well as Dominic Raab, Justice Secretary are responsible for the Bill.

Shapps’s welcomed intervention doesn’t require primary legislation. Contrary to the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, that has suffered several defeats at the House of Lords, this is not required.

This Bill is a joint initiative of Dominic Raab (the Justice Secretary) and Priti Patel (the Home Secretary). It provides greater protection from’serious distress, unease or alarm’ that can be caused by protests.

These measures were primarily a reaction to Extinction Rebellion’s escapades.

Ministers were persuaded that they are being held to ransom by the police. They claim the current legal framework has made it impossible for them to safeguard the public from various acts of violence. This includes potentially deadly sit-downs on the motorways as well as physical obstacles to distribution of newspapers which the demonstrators disagree with.

A proposal specifically related to extreme sound was one of the rejected proposals.

It is not necessary to elaborate on this: some protests can cause distress and great anxiety.

For autistic individuals, loud noises that are repeated over and over can be distressing. They aren’t the only ones who feel this way.

The measures are chiefly a response to the escapades of Extinction Rebellion. Pictured, a climate activist occupying Oxford Circus in 2019

These measures were primarily a reaction to Extinction Rebellion’s escapades. This is a photo of a climate activist who occupied Oxford Circus in 2019.

The Home Office noted that the new law would require the police to consider the specific circumstances in order to determine if the threshold for’serious anxiety’ has been breached. ‘A noise-making protest outside of school may not be considered to have exceeded the threshold. However, it might, depending on the age of people likely to be affected.

“A loud protest lasting only a few hours may not be able to meet the threshold. However, a demonstration that creates the same level of noise for several days might.

Police have to exercise discretionary judgement when interpreting decibel levels.

But I suspect it passes the ‘man on the Clapham Omnibus test’ — that is, the ordinary citizen has a pretty good idea of when and where the noise that people are making constitutes a public nuisance.


The Government could have done this in another way. Under the Noise Abatement Act — which came on to the statute book in 1960, largely as a result of lobbying by the founder of the Noise Abatement Society, John Connell — Parliament introduced limitations on the use of loudspeakers.

Except for certain exceptions (e.g. for emergency services), their use was strictly prohibited between the hours of 9 and 8 in the night and any time other than for the purposes of advertising entertainment, trade, business, etc.

For example, street vendors (which were admittedly somewhat more common than they are now) couldn’t use megaphones to inform the public about their product merits.

If tradesmen cannot use machinery to amplify their message, then why not those whose pitches are political and not commercial?

This is why, instead of creating new legislation for this purpose, it might be a good idea to amend the existing Noise Abatement Act.

The 'taking the knee' was pioneered by the American footballer Colin Kaepernick (pictured) and was emulated by many others, including in this country

Colin Kaepernick, an American footballer (pictured), pioneered the ‘taking the knee’ and it was adopted by many other players including here in the United States.

The point is, with a megaphone, any small group of demonstrators can be intensely disruptive — and in a way which is genuinely unpleasant.

My local market was overrun by anti-vaxxers who used a loudspeaker and told us that our government was engaged in genocide with the coronavirus jabs.

My sympathy was most of all with the clearly infuriated traders, having to put up with this for hours — and who, of course, would be breaking the law if they used a megaphone to make an innocuous suggestion about the merits of their fruit and vegetables.

While some of their peers claimed that the Government’s anti-public nuisance measures were, in the words of one critic, “reminiscent of an autoritarian government of China or Saudi Arabia”, it’s not like extreme noise persuaded anyone about the evils of a government or any of its laws.

In truth, some of the most important demonstrations were silent: Colin Kaepernick’s “taking the knee” was an example. This idea has since been copied by others across the country, as well.

Gandhi’s Salt March was a powerful example of Gandhian peace and had such an impact on India under British colonial rule.


Harriet Harman (Labour MP) stated in opposition to the Government’s current measure that noisey protests were the exercise of healthy democracy’s lungs.

But there is nothing healthy about extreme noise — at least, not in the medical sense. Insistent noise can be extremely stressful. Even small amounts of it can cause a significant mental effect.

In 2011, for example, scientists who studied people near seven European airports discovered that a 10 decibel increase of aircraft noise is associated with an increase of 28% in anxiety medication usage.

In opposing the current Government's measure, the Labour MP Harriet Harman (pictured) declared that 'noisy protests are the exercise of the lungs of a healthy democracy'

Harriet Harman, Labour MP (pictured), declared in opposition to the Government’s current measure that “noisy protests” are ‘the exercise of the lungs a healthy democracy”.

Noisy neighbours are a major problem at the domestic level. It is something that we’d do anything to avoid.

A dispute between neighbors over the loudness of the flushing toilet in an apartment block’s bathroom in Italy was resolved last week after almost 20 years.

It was the Supreme Court in Italy that ruled in favor a couple. They had complained about night-time flushing of their lavatory by their four brothers (nearby), which they attached to a wall adjacent to their bed, and claimed it had violated their right of good sleep.

The court ordered the brothers to pay their neighbours 500 euros compensation for every year since the complaint was first made in 2003 — a total of 9,500 euros.

Although there is humor in this tale, it is not serious. The misery that noise can cause is nearly unbearable.

We are entitled to expect the Government to take action to prevent Tannoy spam from the railways.

What does it matter that the Transport Secretary has been accused of political meddling in railway matters? Grant Shapps does exactly what a minister should do.