If you live in London, you’d better watch out if you decide to have a bit of fun in the snow and ice this winter, because there’s a bizarre law that could see the police fine you £500.
Sure, the police officer would have to really be clued into the intricacies of a law that came into effect in 1839, and also bans things like the flying of kites and setting off fireworks, but it’s still possible.
Basically, the law states that if you mess around in the snow or ice near to a footpath or road – and there could be more on the way this winter – you can be subject to a fine.
Section 54 of the act deals with the "prohibition of nuisances by persons in the thoroughfares" which basically means "d***ing about in the street" to you and me.
Tucked away in point 17 is this gem: "Every person who shall fly any kite or play at any game to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers, or who shall make or use any slide upon ice or snow in any street or other thoroughfare, to the common danger of the passengers.”
At the top of that particular section, it states: “Every person shall be liable to a penalty not more than level 2 on the standard scale, who, within the limits of the metropolitan police district, shall in any thoroughfare or public place, commit any of the following offences.”
Lever 2 on the standard scale means that the maximum fine is £500, so you’d have to be making a right nuisance of yourself to get fined that amount, but you’re more likely – if the police officer is doing their job correctly – to just get told to stop it.
Anyway, it’s definitely an interesting section of the law, because there's a heap of stuff that is prohibited as well as this.
There’s more important and less daft stuff like: “Every person who shall ride or drive furiously, or so as to endanger the life or limb of any person, or to the common danger of the passengers in any thoroughfare.”
Then there is: “Every person who shall roll or carry any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, showboard, or placard, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway.”
Less serious, you’d have to imagine.
Elsewhere, the law prohibits: “Every person who shall wantonly discharge any fire-arm or throw or discharge any stone or other missile, to the damage or danger of any person, or make any bonfire, or throw or set fire to any firework.”
Puts a different spin on London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, right?
Trumpet playing buskers need to be careful too, because the section states that "every person who shall blow any horn or use any other noisy instrument, for the purpose of calling persons together, or of announcing any show or entertainment, or for the purpose of hawking, selling, distributing, or collecting any article whatsoever, or of obtaining money or alms" is in contravention.
In case you were wondering, this piece of legislation is also where knocking on doors and running away is prohibited, and where graffiti is outlawed.
The law is full of this sort of thing, and it makes for quite an interesting read, but you’re unlikely to be fined for sliding around on the ice, so long as you aren’t making a nuisance of yourself.