Mediation Serves as Handy Tool as Neighbor Disputes Rise 70 Percent in Spain during Lockdown
COVID-19 lockdowns have created challenges around the world since February, and Spain is no exception. In addition to the inconvenience and isolation, people have had to deal with another challenge – disputes between neighbors. Authorities in Spain say disputes have risen 70 percent since the lockdown began. Complaints involve shouting, dog barking, loud music, and loud television noises.
Now, Barcelona has set up a system designed to help neighbors resolve these disputes peacefully. It is offering mediation services to help people deal with “noise nuisance” disputes. The majority of complaints filed so far have been settled through mediation and further sanctions have not been needed.
Police acknowledge that the number of calls they typically receive about problems in the community has declined during this time, but the same number of calls are coming in regarding neighborhood disputes. Police say they are “saturated” with calls about noise and other issues. The goal of mediation is not just to offer a way for people to resolve their disputes without a lengthy court battle, it is also to free up police attention to concentrate on other more serious issues.
Barcelona has Neighborhood Police Teams that are in place specifically to resolve these matters, as well as other things that arise within neighborhoods. According to reports, these teams have increased their workload by nearly 175 percent during the pandemic and Spain’s State of Alarm lockdown order.
In Badalona, the call for mediation support to deal with issues arising from “prolonged co-existence” has risen 75 percent. The town set up a telephone hotline to help those involved in disputes. In Sabadell, there was an increase of nearly 60 percent. Many of the reported disputes are occurring between family members.
Spanish authorities have called on people to “respect the basic rules of co-existence to make what for many is becoming an unbearable situation more bearable.”