Fiddle sticks: UK city bans foul language

Foul-mouthed people in Salford could be liable for a €1,300 fine for dropping an F bomb

Salford, City Council, Bad, Foul, Language

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It seems that northerners in Great Britain will have to be pardoning their French with greater care after the city of Salford in Greater Manchester has imposed penalties and fines on the use of “foul and abusive language.” Potty-mouthed Mancunians will be served with £90 (€116) on-the-spot fines or court summons that could leave them liable for £1,000 (€1,300) if found guilty.

The move to clean up the citizens’ language is part of a number of changes made by the Salford Council to improve antisocial behaviour, including a ban on people throwing objects at anyone without their consent, tampering with lifesaving equipment, and vandalising wheelie bins.

While some groups have welcomed the ban on bad language, a number of civil liberties groups have spoken out against it, calling it censorship and asking for a clearer definition of what constitutes “foul and abusive.”

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, a spokesperson for the Liberty human rights organisation said the “order could have a chilling effect on freedom of expression,” with particular concern raised for travelling football fans who might utter profanity on match days.

Liberty has formally written to the Salford Council to ask its members to clarify what the difference is between language that is foul and language that is offensive, and to request information on what legal tests will be invoked if there are no witnesses to the alleged profanity.

In response, Salford City Council has said that the language ban will offer local police greater scope to tackle anti-social behaviour, affording officers “another tool to use against anyone causing a nuisance.”

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