14 ridiculous things you probably didn't know were illegal

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 02 May 2017 11:30
discover

Did you know it's not a good idea to try and charge your phone using the plug sockets on London Overground trains? One man who tried was handcuffed in the back of a police van and charged with "abstracting electricity" for his trouble.

In the name of public service, i100.co.uk has investigated what other made-up-sounding and outdated crimes could land you in trouble.

Remember: Big Brother is watching you.

1. Lying to your fiance

A bridegroom in Liverpool who realised he'd forgotten to book the wedding venue the night before he was due to get hitched decided that it was a wiser course of action to make a hoax bomb threat rather than face the music. He went to jail for 12 months.

2. Gambling in the library

The Library Offences Act of 1898 means it is still illegal - if you were planning to - to use your local reading room as a casino.

3. Wearing armour inside the Houses of Parliament

The 1313 Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour means no one can take weapons into Prime Minister's Questions, which is probably just as well.

4. You can't have a pet whale

Sorry about that. All whales in the United Kingdom, alive or dead, are technically the property of the queen.

5. You are not allowed to look after a cow if you're drunk

The Licensing Act of 1872 forbids anyone to be drunk while in charge of a cow - or steam engine, for that matter.

6. You cannot import potatoes into England and Wales if there is reasonable cause to suspect they are Polish

Defra was worried in 2004 they might have ringrot but the law still stands.

7. Pretending to be a ghost

In Portsmouth a man who pretended to be a ghost while shouting “woo” near mourners at a cemetery was promptly arrested and fined for disorderly behaviour.

8. Playing knock-down/Rat-atat-Ginger

The annoying game of knocking on someone’s door and running away is actually illegal under the 1839 Metropolitan Police Act.

9. Spring cleaning in public

The same law as above makes it illegal to beat or shake any carpet rug or mat or erect washing lines in any street in London.

10. You can't use a taxi if you have the plague

Cholera, smallpox and typhus are also no-nos under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. It might be better to call an ambulance.

11. Firing a cannon near someone's home

Under the Met Police Act of 1839 again, if you fire any firearm "of greater calibre than a common fowling-piece" within 300 yards of a dwelling you're looking at a fine of £200.

12. You're not allowed to be drunk inside a pub

Technically the Licensing Act of 1872 makes it illegal for the owner of the pub to permit you to get drunk there. It's also illegal to buy drinks for someone who's already clearly had a few.

13. Singing in the street

The Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 also means it is illegal to “sing any profane, indecent, or obscene song or ballad” in the street. Try telling that to football fans.

14. Playing in the snow

There's a ban on making slides out of ice or snow thanks to the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847.

More: 9 everyday items more likely to kill you than cannabis

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