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£100 fine for kids’ street football: Is this fair?


Following complaints from neighbours, parents in a UK city have been told by officials to stop their children playing football in the street or risk heavy fines.

Child kicking football

Parents in Nottingham were recently threatened with £100 fines if they allowed their children to carry on playing football in the street where they live.

According to news reports, residents on Ena Avenue in the Sneinton area of the city contacted the Nottingham Community Protection (NCP) organisation – a partnership between local police and the city council – to complain that youngsters had been kicking footballs against their cars and homes.

Fines and ASBOs

NCP then wrote to parents on the street asking them to ensure their children played in local parks rather than in the road to avoid disturbing neighbours.

They were warned that £100 fixed-penalty notices could be imposed under Section 161 of the Highways Act, which concerns "penalties for causing certain kinds of danger or annoyance" on the street.

Alternatively, the NCP said that the council could seek to impose anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) on the children involved.

The parents involved were unhappy with the approach taken by the authorities, as you might expect.

What do other parents think?

But was this course of action justifiable? has spoken to mums and dads around the country to see what their views are.

David Smith, a dad of two boys from Livingston in Scotland, says: "My initial reaction is that it doesn't seem fair on the kids - but I can understand people not wanting a ball kicked against their property.

"I remember when I was a boy and we were always being told to play football in the park instead of in the street – but it never involved the police or threat of fines."

'All are responsible'

Fellow parent Tammy Hinds from Hertfordshire says that everyone involved has a responsibility to get along together.

"Kids need to be careful of windows, parents need to supervise and take responsibility for any actual damage, and neighbours need to worry about something more important.

"Also, the police need to receive more than one complaint before reacting – and it is not clear that they did in this instance."

William Stapleton from Brighton adds: "It’s a tricky one: one person’s good-natured play is another person’s anti-social behaviour.

"I’ve no problem with children playing in the street, but they need boundaries.

'Action as last resort'

"Kicking a football around is fine; accidentally hitting a house or car once in a while is acceptable, within reason.

"But repeatedly hitting a house or car isn’t, nor is antisocial behaviour – and that’s where the police could step in, though only as a last resort."

The charity Play England campaigns for children to be allowed more freedom to enjoy themselves outdoors.

Spokesman Steven Chown says: “Children should be able to play on the street near where they live: being able to walk out of your front door and call on your friends should be a normal part of childhood and not be demonised as anti-social.

Police climbdown

"Parents often don't feel it's safe to let their children visit the park and prefer them to play on their own doorstep.

"Hopefully, as in other cases up and down the country, the police will work closely with parents to make the street a safe place to play."

Chown points out that Surrey Police recently apologised after it sent families letters saying wrongly that it was "a criminal offence" for their children to play sport in the street.

This was also in response to locals’ complaints that their cars had been hit by footballs.


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