Freedom Hotline's blog

300 pound fine for spitting: Disgusting and unacceptable!

A magistrate's court in Waltham Forest has fined two young men 300 pounds for spitting in the street - creating a precedent that is likely to lead to similar cases across the country.

This case was celebrated by the council, but raises worrying questions about the rule of the law and its application.

The men were fined and prosecuted under litter laws - Waltham Forest being one of the few councils, along with Hillingdon, who currently fine people for spitting under litter legislation.

Wrexham FC v Chester FC - Draconian ‘Bubble Matches’ spread to non-league football

A guest post by Peter Lloyd, on the draconian travel restrictions to be imposed on Chester fans travelling to Wrexham for a 31 August fixture. Peter Lloyd is author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’.

Statement on Visa refusal for Turkish theatre director

The Turkish theatre director Mine Cerci was refused a UK visa to rehearse an upcoming show - forcing the company to rehearse on Skype. Below is a joint statement from Clout Theatre and Manick Govinda, head of the Manifesto Club's Visiting Artist Campaign.

Clout Theatre is an international ensemble that formed at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris. Last year they had a hit with their Edinburgh show How a Man Crumbled directed by Mine Cerci in Paris and Istanbul. The piece was nominated for a Total Theatre award and toured nationally and internationally.

Has Trafford issued illegal on-spot fines?

I just received this email from Mike Duffy, about Trafford's council issuing of on-the-spot fines to motorists. He complains about the letter sent by the council to motorists (who are generally being fined for throwing a cigarette butt out of the car window) saying that they are legally obliged to give the identity of the driver or pay the fine. His account is worrying and pertinent and so is reproduced below...

US musician - deported for carrying a guitar case?

US musician Nathan Payne was refused a visitors' visa and deported - all for carrying a guitar case.

His testimony outlining his reasons from coming to the UK, and his treatment at the hands of UK customs officials, is published in full here.

PNDs - No right to appeal

We posted before on a gentleman fined for 'drunk and disorderly' behaviour, though he says that he was 'at no time disorderly'. In attempting to appeal the fine, he has shown the lack of basic checks within the fixed penalty system and its openness for abuse.

He made a detailed appeal in a letter to Sussex Police, explaining that his refusal to comply with a 'direction to leave' notice was because he did not want to leave his bag behind. This appeal was rejected without explanation. He now learns that "my 'appeal' was 'unofficial' i.e. they were under no obligation to treat it seriously or to justify their findings".

Fined in Belfast - for PICKING UP dog mess

A lady has been fined in Belfast for picking up her dog mess. She had left the house without poop bags, and popped home (a few doors away) to get a bag and pick up her dog’s mess ‘60-90 seconds later’. Yet her explanations were dismissed by a ‘bellicose’ council warden, who ‘harranged’ her repeatedly and issued her with a fixed penalty notice for dog fouling.

Her account of events, below, shows how on-the-spot fines are being used to punish the law-abiding. All the basic principles of criminal justice are disregarded: guilt is impugned and officials ignore their own guidelines for the issuing of fines. Her letter is a strong demolition of the basis for this particular fine - and also a case lesson in principles of criminal justice and the rule of law.

Remove leafleting restrictions for local events!

leaflet campaign image It has become almost impossible to hand out leaflets in many town and city centres. Local councils including Brighton, Leicester and Leeds have introduced leafleting zones, within which you have to pay a fee (and often wear a badge) if you want to flyer. These rules have been catastrophic for grassroots organisations, including village halls, comedy clubs and nightclubs, who rely on leafleting to inform local people about their events.

Lord Clement Jones' Private Members' Bill for the deregulation of leafleting will have its second reading on 5 July. To support the Bill, sign our petition against leafleting bans.

Read on: See the Manifesto Club Campaign Against Leafleting Bans

Xfor incentive scheme revealed at last

The private company Xfor pioneered fining-on-commission arrangements with local authorities. For every £75 fine issued - for littering, or offences including leafleting without a licence, or walking a dog in a no-dog zone - the company pocketed £45.

Xfor denied that individual officers were paid commission. But now that the company has been purchased by Kingdom Security ltd, some of its officers have spoken out about its incentive schemes.

An anonymous officer who patrolled in South Wales said: “We had to give out four tickets a day and for any over that we would receive £5-a-ticket bonus.”

The stupidity of fining children for truancy

Truancy fines increased to 41,224 in 2011-12, compared to 32,641 the year before. This increase in fines comes at the same time as a fall in school absenteeism, suggesting that the issue is the greater use of fines rather than an increase in truancy.

This shows the increasing willingness for public authorities to slap people with fines, as a way of asserting authority or discipline, or dealing with social problems. Rather than persuade kids to attend school, or deal with the underlying issues, schools write out fines like parking tickets.

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