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Top 10 UK Laws You've Probably Already Broken

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Alex Harvey
‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s all this then? Welcome to Watchmojo UK and today we’re counting down the top ten UK laws you’ve probably already broken. For this list, we’re looking at the more obscure laws of the land that you didn’t realise you’ve probably broken at one time or another. Special thanks to our user RichardFB for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 UK Laws You've Probably Already Broken

‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello, what’s all this then? Welcome to Watchmojo UK and today we’re counting down the top ten UK laws you’ve probably already broken.

For this list, we’re looking at the more obscure laws of the land that you didn’t realise you’ve probably broken at one time or another.

#10: Using Your Burglar Alarm

Sure, we know burglar alarms are an annoying sound, but…seriously? To be more precise this relates to whether or not someone can your access your alarm in your absence. As it turns out, it is an offence, thanks to The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environments Act 2005, to activate your burglar alarm and not nominate a “key holder” who can access said alarm if it goes off in your absence. So, if you don’t have a designated alarm turner offer, you could conceivably get into trouble. Probably still a better prospect than actually getting burgled, though.

#9: Making a Slide from Ice and Snow

Ah, snow days, snowmen, snowball fights and sledges, what joy. Unfortunately, anyone who’s ever enjoyed themselves after a blizzard can consider themselves a hardened criminal. You can thank the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 for this particular Grinchy-ness. To be fair, it was only introduced to reduce unnecessary danger and obstructions in the streets. But it’s the fact that something so innocent is illegal! Oh, and the same act also forbids flying kites and playing football in the street – for the same reasons. So that’s the summer ruined too.

#8: Carrying a Plank of Wood (Or a Ladder) on a Pavement

This law only applies to London, but Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act forbids the carrying of planks of wood or ladders on the pavement (unless you’re unloading it from a vehicle). This comes down to the fact that London is, well, it's really crowded, as you might have guessed. The same law also prohibits transporting tubs, casks, wheels and hoops along the pavement. So, any builders hoping to get up to any Laurel and Hardy style shenanigans would do well to watch “The Shawshank Redemption” before contemplating a life of crime.

#7: Going as a Soldier for Fancy Dress

Before you get any bright ideas about dressing up and roaming the streets as Robson Green or Sergeant Bilko, just remember that Section 2 of the Uniforms Act 1894 makes it illegal. It should almost go without saying, and certainly without surprise, but if you are not serving in the military you are not allowed to wear a military uniform without her Majesty’s permission. That includes at fancy dress parties. Otherwise you could be looking down the barrel of a month-long stretch in prison, or a £1,000 fine.

#6: Erecting a Washing Line

You can thank the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 and the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847 for this oddity. To be fair, this one specifically refers to putting up washing lines across the street, presumably to cut down on horse rider decapitations. Whilst it’s unlikely anyone would do this, because at the very least it’s a hassle, and at most you’re exposing your tighty whiteys and delicates to passing cars and lorries, it’s worth bearing in mind in unless you want to wind up in the Clink.

#5: Being Drunk in a Pub

It may sound counter intuitive, and it may rub rough against the very fabric of British society, but you’ll need to cut down on those half shandies at lunch time. Now, technically, the Licensing Act of 1872 doesn't limit its jurisdiction to just the pub – it also extends to the highway or any other public place – but it does include it. And, if enforced, it could result in a £200 fine. Obviously, it’s difficult to distinguish between tipsy and drunk, but under the circumstances you’re probably the least qualified to make that distinction.

#4: Knocking on Someone’s Front Door and Running Away

Knock, knock, Ginger, The Ding Dong Ditch or Nicky Nicky Nine Doors… Call it what you will, it’s a crime! That’s right, if any Dennis the Menace wannabes fancy getting you out of your chair by hilariously ringing your doorbell and running away before you answer, you are legally obliged to rugby tackle them and perform a citizen’s arrest. The 1839 Metropolitan Police Act outlawed this “harmless” bit of fun and as such any would-be crims indulging in this behaviour could technically be charged on a count of trespassing and disturbing the peace.

#3: Failing to Carry a Spare Dog Poo Bag

Some people take their dogs seriously, like a child, or human member of the family. Others take your dog's droppings seriously, and understandably expect you to keep their pavements and foot paths clear of dog eggs. In Northamptonshire’s Daventry Council, for example, there is a potential fine of up to £100 for dog owners if they are caught without bags for their dog’s mess. This means that if you have already cleaned up said dog’s mess and end up using your only bag and are subsequently caught without a bag – for any potential ‘second sittings’ – you could still receive that hefty fine.

#2: Singing Bawdy Songs in the Street

Afraid it’s the old Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 again, in all its nit-picky glory. They just don’t like the idea of you having fun, do they. To be fair, it’s often understandable, particularly when things get especially raucous and anti-social. Whilst the pub landlord might well be responsible for how drunk you get on his premises, on the streets you’re on your own – and if you’re caught squawking bawdy ballads, you could be nicked. However, we certainly wish the policeman who goes up against a band of overly-merry football fans chanting “Who ate all the pies?” the very best of luck.

#1: Asking a Stranger for Parking Change

Lord have mercy on the hardened crim who dares to bum some change. Sure, it's likely we've all done it, but there's no safety in numbers and no shelter in ignorance. But, oh, no, it's not just bumming a spare 50p, technically even asking a stranger if they can break a note into change could see you in violation of the Vagrancy Act of 1824 and branded a beggar. The penalty? A month in “the house of correction”! So next time your parking up, make sure you’ve got the correct cash – or just pay by card!

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