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Town in England proposes 'swearing ban'

By
Daniel Uria
The town of Rochdale in England has proposed a public spaces protection order to prevent swearing and other anti-social behavior in the city center. People caught using foul and abusive language, begging, loitering and taking part in other similar behaviors could be warned, removed from the area or fined.
 Photo by David Dixon/Wikimedia Commons
The town of Rochdale in England has proposed a public spaces protection order to prevent swearing and other "anti-social behavior" in the city center. People caught "using foul and abusive language," begging, loitering and taking part in other similar behaviors could be warned, removed from the area or fined. Photo by David Dixon/Wikimedia Commons

March 8 (UPI) -- A town in England is considering whether to ban swearing and other kinds of anti-social behavior.

Rochdale borough council plans to introduce a public spaces protection order that would subject anyone caught "using foul and abusive language" to a warning, fine or removal from the area.

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The measure would also potentially ban begging, loitering, antisocial parking, playing loud music, loudly revving car engines, street drinking, unauthorized charity collections and skateboarding, in addition to barring people under the age of 18 from the town center between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Lauren Canten, a legal officer for human rights campaign group Liberty, opposed the swearing ban and described it as a "staggering misuse of power."

"These proposals would unjustifiably curb the rights and freedoms of Rochdale residents," Canten said. "The swearing ban is so vaguely defined, it would prove impossible for anyone to know whether they were breaking the law or not, while a blanket ban on begging will criminalize some of the most vulnerable people in the town."

Council leader Richard Farnell said the ban was necessary to prevent a "small minority" -- including people who are publicly drinking -- from ruining the town center for other visitors.

"We're investing 250 million pounds in our town center and we are doing everything in our power to create a vibrant, family-friendly and attractive place for everyone," Farnell said. "But I must stress that this is at the very early stages of consultation. We're not ruling anything in or out at this stage. Now we want to have a grown-up discussion to see if these are the right measures."

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