Pavement Injustice – Campaign Against On-the-Spot Fines

pavement injustice Over the past 10 years, public spaces have become increasingly policed by unaccountable officials bearing open-ended powers.

On-the-spot fines mean that police and other officials can punish people for a series of offences ‘on-the-spot’, without legal checks and balances. Criminal offences that would have been tried in court are now often dealt with like a parking ticket.

On-the-spot fines have been running at around 200,000 a year since they were introduced in 2004. Now ‘out of court’ punishments make up nearly half of all offences ‘brought to justice’.

The result has been arbitrary punishments for perfectly innocent activities. A woman was fined for feeding the ducks (‘littering’), as was a man who dropped a £10 note. One Women’s Institute group received threats of fines for putting up a poster (‘fly posting’), and handing out leaflets (‘unlicensed leafleting’), while others have been fined for putting up lost cat posters. A number of political protesters were issued with penalty notices for ‘harassment’, including an anti-CCTV campaigner who handed out leaflets to his neighbours.

A new Manifesto Club campaign against ‘pavement injustice’ will take on unaccountable officials in public spaces – investigating how powers are being used, and calling for their review and limitation. We want to defend the principle that justice is done properly in the courtroom, rather than on-the-spot by a badged busybody. And that law-abiding citizens should be able to use public spaces freely, without risking censure for feeding the ducks.


  • Report an unjust on-the-spot fine: If you have received an unjust on-the-spot fine, please do contact us. Manifesto Club legal advisers can advise you on challenging the fine, and we can publicise cases or include them in our research.
  • Report an official: If you are stopped in public and fined, ask the official who they are, and email us about the incident. We can help make these officials accountable.
  • Keep in touch with the campaign: Sign up for regular campaign updates; follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


  • BRIEFING DOCUMENT: Private security guards get yet more police powers
  • ONLINE MAP: Banned in London map
  • BRIEFING DOCUMENT: Bin Police Work Overtime
  • REPORT: The Corruption of Punishment: How litter fines became a business
  • REPORT: Pavement Injustice: the Rise of On-the-spot fines


    Here are a selection of cases we are taking up of clear ‘pavement injustice’:

  • Tracey John, Rhondda Cynon Taf – fined for dropping a cigarette butt on her own property, which she then picked up. See local news coverage of her case. See our letter to Rhondda Cynon Taf council.
  • Cherie Morgan, Blaenau Gwent – Dog owner fined for walking dog in park, where they had been walking for 30 years. See the local news coverage of this case. See our letter to the council.
  • Stephen Bennett, Sutton – Dog owner wrongfully fined for dog fouling. See the local press coverage. See our letter to the council.
  • We have challenged the regulation of photography in the City of London – and gained City authority guidelines advising private security guards to not stop photographers

    Other cases on the Freedom Hotline blog: 1000 people fined for dropping cigarette butts in Exeter; Political leafleteers asked for leafleting licences in London; Islington council warns people not to attach notices to trees – in a notice attached to a tree; Political leafleteers stopped from leafleting in Oxford; Testing the right to photograph in public.


    Pavement injustice: the tyranny of on-the-spot fines, Open Democracy, 9 February

    Sussex Police introduces more power for PCSOs, Brighton Argus, 9 February

    Brighton and Hove’s tough stance on mess, Brighton Argus, 25 February

    Pavement injustice, Pavement Magazine, 10 April

    Brent Council rubber stamps plans to licence leafleting in the borough, Brent and Kilburn Times, 24 April

    Warning over ‘busybodies’ given legal right to fine and demand information as numbers surge, Daily Mail, 8 May

    Litter law enforcers cleaning up in Blaenau Gwent, Guardian 14 May

    ‘Heavy-handed’ litter fines handed out by private firm in Blaenau Gwent criticised, Gwent Gazette, 17 May

    These petty laws are an insult to the public, Josie Appleton, spiked, 17 May

    Civil liberties group slams Blaenau Gwent litter police, South Wales Argus, 22 May

    Josie Appleton discussed fines for messy gardens on BBC Radio Wales, 22 May

    Josie Appleton discussed police powers for private security guards on BBC Radio Kent, 25 May

    Josie Appleton discussed dispersal zones on BBC Radio Kent, 1 June

    Josie Appleton discussed litter fines on BBC Radio Kent, 8 June

    Civilian officials ‘given further crime powers’, Daily Telegraph, 9 July

    Jacqui’s ‘civilian snoopers given yet MORE power’: Warning as ‘busybody’ numbers surge, Daily Mail, 9 July

    ‘Fines by civilian’ appear on CRB checks, Public Service, 10 July

    Mapped: London’s Banned Zones, Londonist, 11 September

    Banned in London: the capital’s 435 prohibition zones mapped, Guardian online, 11 September

    How drinking a glass of wine in the park during a family picnic is now a crime, Daily Mail, 11 September

    Dog-walking banned in 219 places across London, Daily Telegraph, 11 September

    The unfree streets of London, Josie Appleton, spiked, 11 September

    Olympic police state lingers in UK, Press TV, 13 September

    Banned in London: The ‘hidden’ rules which forbid you from walking dogs or standing with a friend, Evening Standard, 12 September

    The Legal Activities Banned in London, The Atlantic Cities, 12 September

    Croydon has the most police dispersal zones, East London Lines, 12 September

    Thousands hit by bin fines despite Coalition pledges, Daily Telegraph, 14 September

    Josie Appleton was on Russia Today, on 5 October, discussing the ‘Banned in London’ map

    Leafleting bans, Watford Flea, 10 October

    Licensed leafleting means lost liberties in Britain, Free Speech Debate 17 October

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on BBC Radio Teeside, 22 October

    Campaign Against Leafleting Bans – Lord Clement-Jones, Live Music Exchange, 15 November

    Flyering is a vital part of grassroots live music promotion, Live Music Exchange, 15 November

    Leaflet laws are killing comedy, say campaigners, Daily Telegraph, 14 November

    Letter: Change leafleting laws, Daily Telegraph, 14 November

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on BBC London News, 12 November

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on You and Yours, 12 November

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on BBC Radio London, 12 November

    The private litter firm dishing out 700 fines a week, Daily Mail, 12 November

    More than 73,000 penalties for dropping litter issued last year, Sunday Times, 11 November

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on LBC radio, 11 November

    Litter fines earn town halls over £665,000 as 200 people pay a charge every day, Mail on Sunday, 11 November

    Flyering, the importance of hand-to-hand inviting, spiked, 6 December

    Festival boss calls for change to leaflet laws, This is Leicestershire, 28 November

    Eric Pickles warns councils over fag-butt police, This is Kent, 23 November

    Shropshire’s litter louts pay £7,500 in fines, Shropshire Star, 21 November

    Josie Appleton was on BBC Radio Kent on 21 January, discussing litter fines

    Cough up, sir, you’ve left something nasty in the street, Sunday Times, 17 February

    Josie Appleton was on BBC radio London, 13 February, discussing Waltham Forest’s ban on spitting

    Croydon Council calls in ex-soldiers to fight dog poo and littering, Croydon Guardian, 9 February

    Litter squads make millions: Fines soar as councils enlist ex-soldiers to patrol streets, Daily Mail, 29 January

    Number of litter fines rises 90-fold in 15 years, Daily Telegraph, 29 January

    Josie Appleton discussed on-spot fines on Inside Out (BBC 1), 28 January

    Josie Appleton was on BBC Radio London on 28 January, discussing litter fines

    Litter fines ‘cash cow’ for London councils, BBC News, 28 January

    Councils accused of misusing on-the-spot fines, LocalGov, 14 March

    Josie Appleton discussed on-the-spot fines on Daily Politics, 14 March

    Public being ‘milked’ by councils that use on-the-spot fines, The Times, 14 March

    ‘Justice on the street’ raises £132 million for councils, Daily Express, 14 March

    Rise in petty fines ‘treats public like cash cows’, Metro, 14 March

    Innocent people ‘should not be used as cash cows’ by councils, minister warns, Telegraph, 14 March

    Massive rise in on-the-spot fines for petty offences, Channel 4 News, 14 March

    Council on-the-spot fines exploit residents, Eric Pickles warns, Guardian, 14 March

    Councils using their spot fines to milk the public, says Pickles, as the number handed out increases five-fold, Daily Mail, 14 March

    New laws ‘open to abuse of power’, Belfast Telegraph, 20 May

    New laws ‘open to abuse of power’, Daily Express, 20 May

    Homelessness Could Be A Crime Under Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill Warns Think Tank, Huffington Post, 20 May

    Is homelessness about to become a crime?, Left Foot Forward, 20 May

    New Asbo laws could infringe freedom, think tank warns, Telegraph, 19 May

    New laws ‘open to abuse of power’, Press Association, 19 May

    Pavement Justice: On-the-spot fines and the Rule of Law, The Justice Gap, 8 May

    Cowboy practices are not the way to achieve cleaner streets,, 7 May