Against the criminalisation of spitting

After Enfield Council passed a byelaw banning spitting, other local authorities have been queuing up to do the same.

So far, Croydon, Doncaster, and Havering have said that they’ll seek to outlaw the habit.

Hillingdon Council, meanwhile, has defined spitting as ‘litter’ and is fining offenders under littering powers.

Spitting is often rude – occasionally, in cases of exercise or illness, it is necessary. But should it be criminal? The historic ban on spitting was related to the clear public health hazard of TB, which no longer exists.

The objection against spitting is that it is ‘anti-social’. Which no doubt it is, or can be. But the criminal law should not be used to enforce politeness or mores: it is there to regulate genuine harms.

Young people flobbing need a telling off. They don’t need a court summons or on-the-spot fine.