The strangest laws in the UK

By Jane McGuire
 
 

If you are searching for a criminology course, the chances are you will know the difference between right and wrong. Yet have you heard of the Salmon Act of 1986 (yes, as in the fish) or know what the laws are if a dead whale is found on the British coast? Yeah, we didn’t think so. To avoid any of you getting arrested before taking your course, we thought we would share some of the strangest laws in the UK.

 

1. It’s illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament. The building is considered a royal palace which would mean the deceased would be entitled to a state funeral. So if you feel like you are dying – don’t. 

houses of parliament
Image via londonstudystory.wordpress.com

 

2. Talking of dying, the head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail automatically becomes property of the Queen. Just keep swimming free Willy. 

Whale
Image via abcnews.com

 

3. It’s illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour. 

Suit of armour
Image via ageofarmour.com

 

4. In the 17th Century, Oliver Cromwell banned the eating of mince pies on Christmas Day, technically this is still law. 

Mince pies
Image via quirkytravel.com

 

5. It’s illegal to flag down a London taxi if you have the plague. Go on the underground instead. 

London black cabs
Image via telegraph.co.uk

 

6. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down. 

Stamps
Image via dailymail.co.uk

 

7. It is also illegal to doodle on a banknote or deface the Queen’s face, so put that pen away. 

Doodle on £10 note
Image via thedabbler.co.uk

 

8. A now obsolete law, but in the 19th Century it was illegal for women to eat chocolate on public transport. 

Chocolate eating
Image via timeout.com

 

9. Welshman are prohibited from entering Chester before the sun rises and have to leave before the sun goes down. 

Wales
Image via telegraph.co.uk

 

10. Because of this, in Chester, it is technically ok to shoot a Welshman after midnight on Sunday with a crossbow, as long as it’s in the city walls. 

Katniss hunting
Image via wikia.com

 

11. Under the ‘Salmon Act of 1986’ it is illegal to handle salmon under suspicious circumstances in the UK, so no smuggling it in your coat pocket. 

Salmon smuggling
Image via timeout.com

 

12. You can’t carry a plank along the pavement, so if you are carrying shelves from IKEA you could be arrested. One more reason to buy online. 

Plank on pavement
Image via visualeyez.org

 

If you have any more strange laws, why not give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter? Or if you are ready to learn more about the more serious stuff, take a look at the criminology courses listed on our site. 

About the author

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.

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