From 'alarming' chalk markings to feeding the birds and turning up the TV volume: How council zealots are outlawing innocuous acts using 'absurd' diktat powers

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From flying model aeroplanes to wearing a bikini in a garden – councils are making innocuous acts illegal under powers that allow them to issue diktat orders. 

One council imposed a notice on someone for ‘chalk markings’ which caused ‘alarm or distress’, while ten notices have been issued for feeding birds.

A man was also banned from flying his model aeroplane in the two-acre field behind his Kidderminster home, despite complying with all the laws set out by the Civil Aviation Authority.

In another area, a former model was banned from wearing her bikini in her own garden or anywhere near windows in her home. 

And a family in Kent with two autistic children described how they were forced to sell their home after being warned on Christmas Eve that they would be issued with an order banning them from ‘slamming doors’.

Councils have reportedly issued orders for things such as TV volume, shouting or swearing, and loitering. 

Campaigners have slammed ‘cowboy’ laws that have banned people doing such acts as examples of ‘unchecked power’. 

One council has banned the use of 'heavy leather footballs' at a school (stock image)

One council has banned the use of ‘heavy leather footballs’ at a school (stock image)

A man was also banned from flying his model aeroplane in the two-acre field behind his Kidderminster home (stock image)

A man was also banned from flying his model aeroplane in the two-acre field behind his Kidderminster home (stock image)

Mendip Council imposed a notice in 2020/21 on someone for 'chalk markings' said to have caused 'alarm and distress' (file photo)

Mendip Council imposed a notice in 2020/21 on someone for ‘chalk markings’ said to have caused ‘alarm and distress’ (file photo)

Sefton Council in Merseyside used its powers to impose a community protection notice (CPN) on a local school following ‘a large number of complaints raised by residents’.

The notice banned the use of ‘heavy leather footballs’ and demanded that pupils only use ‘light flyway or foam footballs’ instead.

The order is among a number of bizarre CPNs imposed by councils across England in recent years that have been unearthed by campaign group the Manifesto Club, which challenges what it calls ‘the hyper-regulation of public spaces’.

It says the ‘cowboy powers’ should be scrapped, arguing that the majority of CPNs are ‘unnecessary’ or could be pursued in other ways.

The campaigners found that almost 26,000 community protection warnings (CPWs) and CPNs were issued across England last year, up from 14,000 in 2014/15, reports The Telegraph.

CPWs are first issued by councils to alleged perpetrators of anti-social behaviour – and this can be upgraded to a CPN if the behaviour continues unabated.

The community powers can be used by the police, local authorities and housing associations that are licensed to do so by councils.

One council slammed a school with a community protection notice banning the use of leather footballs after receiving 'noise complaints' from locals (stock image)

One council slammed a school with a community protection notice banning the use of leather footballs after receiving ‘noise complaints’ from locals (stock image)

Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club, which has called for the 'absurd' CPNs to be scrapped

Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club, which has called for the ‘absurd’ CPNs to be scrapped

READ MORE: ‘Cowboy’ laws that have criminalised wearing a bikini in a private garden and flying a model aeroplane: Campaigners call for community protection notices to be scrapped as report warns of danger of ‘unchecked powers’ 

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They were brought in as part of a raft of measures to replace anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) in 2014 – but unlike ASBOs, CPNs do not have to be sanctioned by a court.

More than 200 councils issued the orders last year, with 35 sending out notices for messy or overgrown gardens.

Other notices included 10 CPNs for feeding birds, 23 for begging, 16 for neighbour disputes and 14 for barking dogs.

Mendip Council imposed a notice in 2020/21 on someone for ‘chalk markings’ said to have caused ‘alarm and distress’.

In all, almost 48,000 CPNs have been issued since 2014. Breaching a CPN is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £2,500.

The most prolific councils were Durham, which issued 819 orders, and Nottingham, which issued 543.

On the football ban, Sefton Council says it only imposed the ban on leather balls for a few months, after which the ‘successful’ order was lifted. 

Some CPNs were also used to target serious issues such as domestic abuse and drugs and violence. 

But the Manifesto Club claims using community powers in this way risks ‘trivialis(ing) criminal activity’ and prevents police from properly investigating potential crimes.

It has called for CPNs to be scrapped, branding the notices ‘unnecessary’. 

Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club, said: ‘Officials appear to have created a blank cheque power and then washed their hands of it.

‘It’s only because of Manifesto Club FOIs (Freedom of Information requests) that we know that there have been nearly 50,000 CPNs issued since 2014. 

‘The Home Office doesn’t keep basic data or monitor the use of this power – there have been no government studies on whether CPNs are appropriately issued, or are effective.

‘The Home Office needs to fill this gap, and fast, before more innocent people are slapped with absurd legal orders.’

Community Protection Notices (CPN) handed out by police forces and local councils have dictated how people could prune their hedges, how to close their front doors and even ban them from wearing bikinis in their own front garden. 

Campaigners are calling for CPNs to be scrapped, after a report revealed how the orders, which can result in a fine of up to £2500, have left people feeling ‘powerless’ 

The so-called ‘cowboy laws’ can be issued on the spot by police or council officials for ‘detrimental behaviour’ – often without investigation. 

The number of CPNs skyrocketed from 9,546 in 2014-15 to 24,733 in 2019-20, according to the latest data. 

The so-called 'cowboy laws' can be issued on the spot by police or council officials for 'detrimental behaviour - often without investigation

The so-called ‘cowboy laws’ can be issued on the spot by police or council officials for ‘detrimental behaviour – often without investigation

One police officer told The Sunday Telegraph that his colleagues were ‘giving them out like confetti’, while a council consultant said officials were determined to hand out as many as possible. 

Manifesto Club released a report which showed that those who’d been slapped with an order were left feeling ‘powerless’ with some saying it had ‘ruined their lives’.

Malcolm Edwards, 68, was banned from flying his model aeroplane in the two-acre field behind his Kidderminster home, despite complying with all the laws set out by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mr Edwards told The Telegraph that he believes he was given the order by a ‘vindictive’ police officer who took a local complaint on face value.

The 68-year-old model plane enthusiast, who has been diagnosed with cancer, added:  

‘You feel violated when you know you have done nothing wrong and helpless knowing everything you are doing to rectify the situation falls on deaf ears,’ he said.

‘When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought I could be dead, and the last three years of my life wouldn’t be happy memories all because of this pettiness.’

The CPN was withdrawn after Mr Edwards proved he had not breached a warning by flying a plane on the day that he was accused. 

A community Protection Notice (CPN) was handed out to ban an 81-year-old former model from wearing a bikini in her own front garden (stock image)

A community Protection Notice (CPN) was handed out to ban an 81-year-old former model from wearing a bikini in her own front garden (stock image)

Kay Crane, 81, was banned from wearing her bikini in her own garden or anywhere near windows in her home.

The former model, who was also banned from ‘watching, staring’ at the neighbouring property, said: ‘The council acts as judge and jury while the accused is not allowed to speak.

‘It was just awful, I felt intimidated and bullied and there is nothing that you can do.

‘They shouldn’t be allowed to do banning orders. We need a justice system that looks at the evidence and considers all sides, not just something that is decided by the council. 

‘They didn’t ask for anyone else’s point of view.’

One family in Kent with two autistic children described how they were forced to sell their home after being warned on Christmas Eve that they would be issued with an order banning them from ‘slamming doors’.

CPNs, which replaced ASBOs, can be given to anyone aged 16 or over for persistent antisocial behaviours and can be effective with no maximum period of time.

Antisocial behaviour, according to the government website, includes drunken or threatening behaviour, vandalism and graffiti and playing loud music at night. 

CPNs, which replaced ASBOs, can be given to anyone aged 16 or over for persistent antisocial behaviours and if effective with no maximum period of time (stock image)

CPNs, which replaced ASBOs, can be given to anyone aged 16 or over for persistent antisocial behaviours and if effective with no maximum period of time (stock image)

Police and local authorities have been able to use the power to prevent people feeding foxes in their garden and prevent Portuguese people from entering a town shopping centre.  

Josie Appleton told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Officers should not be able to write out a legal order on your doorstep, or send one through the post without talking to you first.

‘These powers were supposed to help victims, but actually they are victimising thousands of innocent members of the public who have been unfairly targeted.

‘CPNs give council and police officers an open licence to bully people and to act on malicious or unfounded accusations.

‘We are calling for these powers to be scrapped, or at the very least subject to basic due process. We have worked with CPN recipients on guidance to introduce some checks into this cowboy area of law.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and Community Protection Notices are an important tool in helping us to do that.

‘It’s crucial these powers are used proportionately, which is why there are clear legal tests that must be met before they can be issued and anyone who receives one has an opportunity to appeal.

‘His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services collects this data for the purpose of inspection including to assess whether a range of anti-social behaviour orders are used proportionately.’







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