Pee or spit in public and risk £80 fine

Updated: 
Spit or pee in the street in the good borough of Waltham Forest and, if caught, you'll be fined £80. The London council has managed to clear the new fine with the Government by introducing a new by-law.

Fixed Penalty Notices will be issued from civil enforcement officers. Many Waltham Forest residents, it is claimed, support the new anti-social behaviour move. Will it work?

Expensive penny

"It's horrible to witness and leaves an unsanitary mess on our paths and pavements," local councillor Clyde Loakes told the Evening Standard. "Why people think it is acceptable to indulge in what must be the most anti-social of all behaviours is a mystery to all right-minded people, but the fact is they do."

The new Waltham Forest move sends out, he added "an unequivocal message to those people who spit or treat our streets like a toilet". Near neighbour Enfield Council, a few miles to the west, is also hoping to introduce a similar by-law very soon.

It's not clear whether Waltham Forest will deploy private environmental enforcement companies to enforce the clamp-down. Such companies, like XFor, have previously been criticised for acting in an over-zealous manner (and also the subject of a BBC investigation).

Fines to rise

More broadly UK councils have pulled in more than £5m from well over 70,000 litter fines a year (about 200 fines a day). This fine-rate could potentially climb sharply if spitting and urinating in the street is taken seriously by enforcement operators.

In the past there were health concerns about the risk of contracting TB from spitting. However a more much higher risk these days is contracting the novovirus, which can be passed on from public vomiting.

There's also some degree of ambiguity about who would be targeted from spitting fines. Joggers and runners often need to spit due to the sheer amount of air they can inhale. But how many pedestrians really need to spit?

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