British laws you're probably breaking without knowing

Feeding the birds in Devon and handling a salmon suspiciously, to name but two...

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Credits: Plymouth Herald / SWNS.com

You might think fining people for feeding the gulls at the seaside is strictly for the birds, but legal eagles know it's not the only weird law that could land you up before the beak .

Everyday tasks, such as hanging out your washing or beating down your doormat, could also land you on the wrong side of the law.

Holidaymakers heading to Devon's Exmouth, Sidmouth or Seaton this year could find themselves out of pocket for a little act of kindness.

See also: Seagull snatches iPhone on Exmouth beach

See also: Strange driving laws around the world

East Devon District Council announced this week that people will be hit with £80 on-the-spot fines if they are caught feeding the birds on its beaches, with nearby authorities now considering a similar move.

They are trying to tackle the menace of aggressive seagulls, which have been known to steal food out of people's hands.

Council spokesman Ian Chubb, 67, says: "If you have got somebody who is habitually going down to feed the the seagulls, the little old ladies like in Mary Poppins, now we can do something about it."

But it's not just bird lovers who face finding themselves unexpectedly on the wrong side of the law.

As we look at some of our strangest rules and regulations, ask yourself...

Could you be guilty?

1 Switching on your burglar alarm

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 makes it an offence to activate your burglar alarm and leave the house if you have not nominated a "key-holder" who can access your house to switch off the alarm if it goes off. So, if you have forgotten to give a key to a friendly neighbour, you could technically end up in the dock with the burglar.

Credits: E+

E+

2 Asking a stranger for parking change

We've all done it – parked the car only to find we don't have enough change for the ticket.

But asking a stranger for change is still classed as begging under the Vagrancy Act 1824 and could mean you spend a month in "the house of correction".

3 Going as a soldier for fancy dress

According to the Seamen's and Soldiers' False Characters Act 1906, it is illegal to pass yourself off as a member of the Armed Forces. So dressing up as an admiral for a fancy dress party could land you three months in jail. The law states it is an offence to "impersonate the holder of a certificate of service or discharge".

4 Getting drunk in a pub

According to Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872 "every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises" could face a £200 fine. Could this be the way to pay off the national debt? Enforcing this across the land on a couple of Friday nights would surely put us back in the black.

5 Carrying your DIY shopping home

Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to "roll or carry any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, showboard, or placard, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway". So carrying some wood or a set of ladders back from B&Q could lead to a £500 fine.

6 Handling a salmon suspiciously

Credits: Aurora Creative

According to Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 it is illegal "to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances". Poachers beware.

7 Hanging out the washing

Residents on a new development in Beverley, East Yorkshire, are subject to a "restrictive covenant" which bans them from hanging out the washing or airing clothes outside. Other common covenants prevent people from putting up fences in front gardens and washing cars outside their homes.

8 Playing knock-a-door-run

The Metropolitan Police Act 1854 makes it an offence to "wilfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant by pulling or ringing any doorbell or knocking at any door without lawful excuse". So naughty kids could face a fine of up to £500.

9 Bringing Polish potatoes into England

The Polish Potatoes Order 2004 makes it illegal to "import into England, potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes". The order was made after outbreaks of ring rot on Polish potato farms.

Credits: Westend61

10 Playing football in the street

The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to "fly any kite or play at any game to the annoyance of the inhabitants or passengers [...] in any street". So children playing footie outside your front door could land a £500 fine.

11 Engaging in small talk

Staff at Carlisle City Council were banned from talking about anything other than work. An email sent to 31 workers in 2011 warned them "to be aware of the reason why they are here, which is to work and not to treat the office as a day-to-day holiday camp".

12 Failing to carry a spare dog poo bag

Daventry Council, Northamptonshire, has a fine of up to £100 for dog walkers caught without a poop bag. So if they are stopped AFTER binning a full bag they could still be fined.

13 Cleaning your doormat

Section 60 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to beat a doormat in the street after 8am. Beating your carpet at any time of day could mean a £500 fine.

Weird laws around the world

Weird laws around the world


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