I wasn’t entirely convinced of the authenticity of this news, since I initially found it when I was reading The Mail to correct my tendency to hypotension. However, it also appeared in the i, and they tend to be a bit more disciplined about their fact checking.

Back in 2014, Posh Shoes, who was then Home Secretary, introduced Community Protection Notices. The aim here was entirely laudable. If you acted like an arse in public and annoyed people, you could get stuck with and on the spot fine of 100 quid. Fail to cough the dosh, you ended up in court looking two and a half grand and a criminal record in the face. Businesses can get stuck for 25 big ones.

Great. Splendid. Basingstoke, for example, has nailed skateboarding in the streets, which is all to the good. Then as you might have anticipated, some petty despots got in on the act and started abusing their power in no uncertain terms, making the CPNs into a cash cow.

For goodness sake don’t have a crying jag in public Newcastle under Lyme, or the Thought Police will add to your woes and fine you. They’ll also nobble you if you’re shouting or arguing, which is not all a bad thing.

In four council districts, they’ve issued CPNs to stop people feeding the birds. I’m in two minds about this, because all four would appear to be haunts of seagulls, and the more we do to discourage those vicious avian bastards the better. But some old dear quietly feeding the ducks? Hundred quid for that?

Rotherham went nuclear. They fined somebody and used the CPN to force a householder to wash the windows of their property outside and in. I’d be intrigued to know how they checked the latter, short of jackboots coming through the door at dawn.

Here’s one of the best examples of a council chucking its weight about. A bloke in East Lancashire was threatened with a CPN if he didn’t take down some ‘inflammatory’ signs he’d put up, criticising a housing development. Since this had been sanctioned by the council, the CPN was effectively a gagging order.

Then there’s Warwick council. They have a great wheeze. Children playing knockadoor-runaway can now be nailed. That seems a bit heavy-handed to me, and not a little pointless given the age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10, and teenytinies can’t be hauled up in front of the beak anyway

By the way, a CPN can be issued by a council official, and we know full well what jumped up tyrants they can be. Talking of jumped up tyrants, a CPN can also be issued by private security guards employed by the local council. PCOs also get a crack of the whip, as do the rozzers, which strikes me as a not very good way of utilising police time.

What is it they say about power corrupts?

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