Press release

Eric Pickles: We should not tolerate spitting in the street

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ministers gave backing today to a council byelaw that would make spitting in the street a criminal offence.

The London Borough of Enfield applied to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, for provisional approval to make byelaws that prohibit anti-social spitting across the borough due to the extent of the localised problem.

In a letter to the council, ministers highlighted the reassurances given by Enfield council about the robustness of the proposed byelaws and the effective enforcement that the council intends to take. The byelaw was supported by Labour and Conservative groups on the council.

Councils across the country already have byelaws in place to tackle anti-social behaviour, from dog fowling to urination. Ministers are of the view that spitting in the street is in a similar category. The byelaw makes it an offence to spit in the street “without reasonable excuse”, it would not cover spitting into a handkerchief or tissue.

Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, said:

Spitting is a deeply anti-social and unpleasant practice. Spitting on Britain’s streets is not socially acceptable.

In light of the cross party support and backing of ruling and opposition groups, we are giving the go-ahead to new powers for Enfield council to tackle these localised problems.

Further information

Local authorities can decide the best way to tackle nuisance behaviour in their areas and byelaws can be an effective tool in preventing unpleasant, unhygienic or annoying behaviour.

The public should be able to enjoy public spaces, their parks, streets and town centres, without nuisance or annoyance and byelaws can help prevent nuisance behaviour and ensure the public enjoyment of open spaces.

Byelaws may be submitted to the Department for confirmation if they are formally adopted by the council and submitted in accordance with the procedure set out in the guidance notes, which can be found on the Communities and Local Government website

Byelaws are local laws and can lead to criminal prosecution.