15 Bizarre British Laws You’re Probably Breaking Every Day
It is with pride that people lawfully declare their income and pay the correct level of tax, do not steal from their local shop or racially abuse their fellow British citizens.
15. Every Time Someone Jumps The Queue At The Tube Ticket Station, They Are Committing A Crime
Queuing is a very British thing. In fact, it is so important to the British public that queue-jumpers are deemed as criminals in London.
Under the Transport for London (TfL) Byelaws, any customer who has been asked to queue by a member of Tube staff while they are waiting for a ticket must join the end of the line – or they are committing a crime.
Only in Britain…
14. It Is A Crime To Activate Your Burglar Alarm And Leave Your Property If You Haven’t Nominated A Key-Holder
Every time you leave your house, put the burglar alarm on and lock the door, you are committing a crime – unless you have already “nominated a key-holder”.
As bizarre as it might seem, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 specifies that you must have named a key-holder so that they can switch the siren off should it be activated by an intruder, or indeed just by mistake.
It’s fine to alert the public that someone is stealing from your house then – just as long as you don’t disturb them for too long!
13. Pub Owners Are Breaking The Law If They Allow People To Be Drunk On Their Premises
Every Friday and Saturday night in every village, town and city across Britain, pub landlords are breaking the law – by allowing punters to get drunk.
The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence for any “keeper of a public house” to permit drunkenness or disorderly conduct on their premises under their watch.
And, just to hammer home the fact that all pub-owners are criminals, the Licensing Act 2003 states that it is illegal for a landlord to sell alcohol to someone who is already intoxicated.
So, next time you’re at the pub and you see your landlord selling a pint to someone who is already soused, make sure you give the local police station a call…
12. Carrying A Plank Of Wood Or Ladders Along The Pavement Is A Crime
Builders beware – it is illegal to walk along the pavement with a plank of wood.
Under Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, walking along the pavement with planks of wood, ladders, casks, poles and showcards is a crime.
Makes it impossible to carry out building works really, doesn’t it?
11. It Is Against The Law To Keep A Pigsty In Front Of Your House
Another law on the statute books which has created some bizarre crimes is the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 – and particularly Section 28.
Not only does this act make it illegal to keep a pigsty in front of a house (unless of course it is suitably hidden from view), it also specifics that slaughtering cattle in the street is a crime, as is playing “knocky, knocky nine-doors” because that would mean you are “wilfully and wantonly disturbing people by ringing their doorbells or knocking at their doors”.
10. It Is Illegal To Erect A Washing Line Across A Street
Returning to Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, this statute declares that it is illegal to erect a washing line across the street.
Any person who spreads their washing line on to the street is committing a crime – and all just for the sake of drying their knickers…
9. If You Are Suffering From A “Notifiable” Disease You Cannot Get The Bus
Suffering from a “notifiable disease” (whatever that is)? Well, you are banned from getting the bus and you can only get in a taxi home if you let the driver know first and they agree to give you a ride.
A bus driver cannot allow you on to a bus if you have a “notifiable disease” – and you are compelled by law to notify them before you get on.
The Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 insists that any person suffering from a “notifiable disease” – a vague term, but which definitely includes the bubonic plague – may only enter a “public conveyance” if they notify the driver of their condition first.
Interestingly, the driver must then alert the local authority and “disinfect” their cab afterwards. Seems extreme, doesn’t it?
8. In London It Is Illegal To Shake A Rug In The Street
Reverting back to the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 – and this time attention must be drawn to Section 60.
This section makes it illegal to “beat or shake any carpet or rug in the street” in the City of London.
So you cannot complete your spring clean by shaking your rug free of dust in the street – although shaking a doormat is allowed before 8am, naturally…
7. Flying A Kite Or Playing Games In The Street Is A Criminal Offence
Every child in Britain remembers playing football in the back street outside their house or flying a kite around their estate.
Well, every time you did that you were committing a crime, as specified under Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act.
This act makes it illegal to fly kites or play “annoying games” (which could include a kickabout if the ball keeps landing in someone’s garden) in the street. How are kids supposed to have fun nowadays, exactly?
6. By Law, Easter Has To Be On The First Sunday After The Second Saturday In April
When Easter Sunday is celebrated in Britain on April 5, every citizen in the United Kingdom will be breaking the law.
The reason? Well, the Easter Act 1928 specifies that “in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Easter Day shall be a fixed day in each year, namely the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April”.
Although this Act has never officially been brought into force, it has been on the statute books since 1929 – so technically everyone should celebrate Easter Sunday on April 12, and not April 5.
5. Sliding Along The Street On Ice And Snow Is Illegal
Back to that killjoy Metropolitan Police Act 1839 and its annoying Section 54, this time to ruin the fun of winter.
Seeing ice and snow on the street is a novelty every winter – but it is actually illegal to slide on them in the street.
What other way are people going to amuse themselves aside from endlessly posting videos of their friends attempting to slide on ice and then falling on their backsides on to Youtube?
4. Handling Salmon Under “Suspicious Circumstances” Is A Crime… And There Are No Guidelines As To What Constitutes “Suspicious Circumstances”
Cooking a whole salmon is a delicious treat – but be careful, because if you handle the fish in “suspicious circumstances” then you are committing a crime.
Although the Salmon Act 1986 was intended to deal with poaching and over-fishing, the statute technically covers any “suspicious handling” of this delicious fish, whatever that
3. Writing On Or Defacing A Banknote Is Against The Law
Almost every banknote in Britain has been written on at some point or other – usually by a shopworker checking if the money is real or counting up the takings.
Yet the Currency and Banknotes Act 1928 makes it illegal to “deface a banknote by printing, stamping or writing on it” – so all shopworkers are technically committing crimes.
Also, the Coinage Act 1971 specifies that destroying a metal coin that has been in circulation in the UK since 1969 is an offence – unless the Treasury has granted you special permission to do so.
2. It Is Illegal To Sing Profane Or Obscene Songs In The Street
Drunk people enjoy a singsong on their way home from the pub after five or six pints too many – and the lyrics they belt out usually involve profanities or obscenities.
For this reason, these drunkards are committing a crime – because under the Town Police Clauses Act 1947, Section 28, it is an offence to “sing profane or obscene songs or ballads in the street”.
Every person who is awoken by this loud, drink-fuelled singing will no doubt hope that the police start bringing this act into force, no doubt…
1. Damaging A Village Green By Walking Across It Is An Offence
Taken a divot out of the village green by diving to take a catch while playing for the local cricket side on a weekend? Well, you’ve only gone and committed a crime there.
The Commons Act 1876 makes it illegal to “interfere with or disturb a town or village green”.
Although designed to prevent greens being used for specific purposes – for example football – technically it is an offence to disturb the grass or turf in any way, shape or form.