Petty Britain

Has Britain become obsessed with petty-minded control?

Convention on Modern Liberty Research Team paper 3
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Tolerance and common sense have been replaced by officiousness and the enforcement of petty-minded regulations in Britain. Armies of wardens patrol our streets watching for the slightest misdemeanour. Bureaucrats have become obsessed with nonsensical health and safety laws. No longer are we a nation that indulges human failings and eccentricity, as these thirty examples from the last six months show.

Council snoops use anti-terror laws to spy on punt operators. Cambridge City Council have used RIPA anti terrorist laws to install hidden CCTV cameras to film punt operators on the river Cam in an attempt to catch them picking up passengers from undesignated spots along the river bank. Mail Online, 16 September 2008

Council censors art gallery. Harrow Council forced Harrow Art Society to take down nude paintings and drawings at an exhibition in a local arts centre.  The stated reason was that it was to avoid offending children., 6 November 2008

Man fined for littering without evidence. Mark Winspear was issued with a £75 fine by a Kettering Borough Council ward for (legally) flicking ash from his car window.  After challenging the fine, Mr Winspear was prosecuted and convicted at Kettering Magistrates Court and forced to pay £, 17 September 2008

Busking bagpiper arrested for causing ‘distress’ to local shoppers Shaun Cartwright, a busking bagpiper, has been arrested for causing a breach of the peace. He was accused of causing ‘distress’ to shoppers, despite having made £50 in just an hour of playing.Daily Mail, 22 December 2008

Circus fans face silent comedy after ban on clowns’ Zippos Circus said it had been told by Birmingham City Council to drop a section in which its clowns play the instruments after it fell foul of the Licensing Act 2003, which requires a licence for live music. The Times, 22 September 2008

Health and safety ban on welcome doormatsResidents in a block of flats in Hampshire, have been told by Gosport Borough Council to get rid of their welcome mats because they have been deemed a health and safety trip hazard. Daily Mail, 17 November2008

Pensioner fined for littering after police knock cigarette from his hand while arresting shoplifters. A 76-year-old-man for Margate, Kent, was handed a £60 littering fine when his cigarette was knocked out of his hand by a crowd gathering to watch police arrest shoplifters.Mail on Sunday, 7th December 2008

Father of four taken to court and fined  because he overfilled his wheelie-bin by four inches. Gareth Corkhill from Whitehaven in Cumbria has been forced to pay £210 by magistrates, and handed a criminal record, because his wheelie bin lid was four inches ajar.  Daily Mail, 22 April 2008

Litter police fine woman £75 for dropping a morsel of sausage roll. Sarah Davies,  was fined by two officials from Hull City Council’s “environmental crime unit” when she accidentally dropped a piece of sausage roll while giving it to her four-year- old daughter Chloe.  She was also threatened with arrest for refusing to give her name.Daily Mail, 25th April 2008

Disabled woman fined for permit slip-up. A traffic warden in Kendal, Cumbria issued a £35 ticket to an 82-year-old sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, who was asleep in a car, because her disabled parking badge was upside down. Telegraph, 3 May 2008

Petite pensioner deemed a violent patient. Ada Tremlett, 81, who is barely 5ft tall, needs two walking sticks to get around and was recovering from a broken wrist, was officially deemed “potentially dangerous” by staff Devon County Council social services.  She has since won a complete apology. Telegraph, 3 May 2008

Suffolk teenager’s chip nightmare. Teenager Jack Double was fined £50 by litter enforcement officers when he threw a bad-tasting chip to a nearby seagull on Ipswich’s Chantry Estate.Evening Star, 30 Dec 2006

Boy (12) fined while being ill.12-year-old Bradley Brooks was fined £50 after leaving a plastic drinks bottle on a telephone box while he vomited after feeling sick at a friend’s birthday party., October 10 2008

Man fined for swearing at TV. A man has been fined £80 for swearing at his own television while drunk.   His ranting put him in breach of an ASBO that had been imposed at an earlier hearing to try to stop him shouting and swearing at the television whenever he disagreed with a programme. Telegraph, 7 Dec 2008

Metric martyr brands council rules ‘farcical’. Janet Devers was found guilty at Thames Magistrates Court on eight charges, including two for using imperial weighing scales without an official stamp.  She was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay the prosecuting council’s costs of nearly £5,000.  Telegraph, 8 Oct 2008

Off-licence staff asked two PENSIONERS for proof they were over 18 Pensioners Jennifer Rogers, 68, and Joyce Fisher, 70, were stopped trying to buy a £4 bottle of white wine at their local One Stop Shop and told to prove they were over 18 with photographic ID.  Mrs Rogers’ old-style paper driving licence was refused and staff only relented when she showed her bus pass. Daily Mail, 25 Jan 2009

Ambulance given parking ticket An ambulance was given a parking ticket while its paramedic driver collected medicine in Kingston-upon Thames.Telegraph, 21 Dec 2008

Nurse suspended for prayer offer A community nurse has been suspended by North Somerset Primary Care Trust for offering to pray for a 79-year-old patient.  Caroline Petrie has been accused of not showing “personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity” Daily Mirror, 3 Feb 2009

Boy threatened with fine for putting up missing pet posters 13-year old Daniel Cope was accused of ‘fly-posting’ and threatened with a £80 fine by Canterbury Council when he put up posters near his home to find his lost cat Milly. Daily Mirror, 5 Sept 2008

Vicar taking funeral gets parking fine. A vicar in Torquay was given a parking ticket while conducting the funeral service for a friend, because his disabled drivers badge was displayed incorrectly. Daily Express, 29 Jan 2009

Toddler fined £80 for dropping two crisps. Grandmother Barbara Jubb was fined £80 for littering after her 20-month-year-old granddaughter dropped two crisps on the pavement as Mrs Jubb was returning from a hospital appointment in Crawley, West Sussex.   Daily Mail, 17 May 2007

Teenager arrested for growling at a dog. Kyle Little was arrested for growling and barking at two Labradors.  He was then convicted by magistrates of causing harassment, alarm or distress and ordered to pay a £50 fine and £150 costs. Daily Mail, 28 April 2007

Pensioner banned over speed trap alert Pensioner Stuart Harding,71, was convicted of wilfully obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty, banned from driving and ordered to pay court costs after he set up a sign warning motorists of a police speed trap.  The court also confiscated Mr Harding’s sign and ordered it to be destroyed. Telegraph, 11 June 2004

A toy go-kart? You’re nicked! A Staffordshire police officer pulled up three boys riding a home made go-kart and said they were breaking the law because they hadn’t got a tax disc insurance, and then sent a letter to their parents informing them that their sons were guilty of anti social behaviour. Daily Mail, 1 May 2007

Four police officers  tackle boy, 11, who called schoolmate ‘gay’ Police sent two officers to the home of a 11-year-old-boy, and two to his primary school to investigate after he had sent an email calling one of his school friends ‘gay’. Daily Mail, 2 April 2007

Surfers could face ASBOs for cutting in on swimmer’s waves  Police in Cornwall are considering sending community support officers to patrol the beach if surfers continue to cut in on swimmer’s waves.  The surfers risk being taken to court and issued with an ASBO if the problem persists.Telegraph 19 Sept 2008

Neighbour must not laugh or stare. Stuart Hunt, from Drumnadrochit in Inverness-shire, has received an ASBO banning him from laughing, staring or slowly clapping his hands at anyone following a dispute with neighbours over speed bumps. Scotsman, 24 Oct 2008

Council bans mourners from laying artificial flowers on graves – because of the health and safety risk North East Lincolnshire Council have banned the use of artificial flowers, pottery and glass items at Grimsby Crematorium’s Garden of Remembrance warns on the grounds of health and safety.Daily Mail, 5 Jan 2009

Shopkeepers banned from serving customers glass of mulled wine. SA store owner in Anstruther, Fife, was banned from serving their customers a glass of mulled wine, and told he needed to apply for an alcohol licence if he wanted to offer customers a festive treat. Telegraph, 24 Dec 2008

Fight against pub music red-tape Licensees face having to provide detailed information, including names, ages, and contact details of promoters and performers, every time a live music event or other entertainment is staged.  Other details, such as music style and target audience are also required on the document, known as Form 696.Morning Advertiser, 14 Jan 2009

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