A local council's extraordinary step of banning swearing has triggered a backlash from human rights campaigners.
Salford City Council has adopted a Public Space Protection Order that outlaws expletives in the Quays area apparently in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour.
Salford Quays swearing ban? Fuck off.— Stuart Brown (@sbroon) March 3, 2016
The order covers a variety of actions including the use of "foul or abusive language" as well as "throwing of any object at anyone without their consent" and littering.
In short, you could now be fined for swearing in Salford Quays. I hate this damned country sometimes https://t.co/xFH6k0FL1U— Notch Johnson (@WeNeedBrexit) March 3, 2016
Anyone found to be breaching any of these would be subject to a fixed penalty notice of £90 or a summons to court with a maximum penalty of £1,000 if convicted.
Human rights group Liberty has written to Salford council to express concern over the "chilling effect on freedom of expression" the order could have.
— Jani McCauley (@msjanimccauley) March 3, 2016ADVERTISEMENT
Liberty’s Legal Officer, Rosie Brighouse, said: "This is a staggering example of the misuse of a Public Space Protection Order – so vaguely worded it’s impossible for anybody to know whether they’re in danger of breaking the law.
"The right to say what we want should not be restricted at the whim of council officials, able to issue fixed penalty notices on the basis of a poorly defined legal order. Without the freedom to offend, real freedom of expression cannot exist."
A tree falls in forest but no-one hears it, does it make a sound? Someone swears on Salford Quays but no-one hears it, is it still a crime?!— Sam Caslin (@drcaslin) March 3, 2016
Comedian Mark Thomas is due to perform at the Lowry theatre in the area and is reported to be encouraging his audience to engage in "artistic and political activities" after his show.
A spokesman for Salford City Council said: "We will discuss Liberty’s concerns privately with them and make sure nothing interferes with Mr Thomas’s artistic performance.
A swearing ban in Salford Quays !!! fuck off you're taking the piss aren't you. Looks like now out of bounds for people with Tourette's— Graham Tinkler (@GrahamTinkler) March 3, 2016
“Liberty are fully aware that breach of a PSPO is only an offence if a person does a prohibited act without a reasonable excuse. That allows all the circumstances to be taken into account.
"I appreciate Liberty want publicity for their campaign against these orders but Salford City Council is not going to apologise for using national legislation to help Salford residents when their lives are being made a misery by anti-social behaviour."
Gonna go Salford Quays and run round screaming fuck until someone fines me— Alex Beeves (@alexbeeves) March 3, 2016
He added: "This order was introduced last summer after complaints from local residents about anti-social behaviour, including people throwing wheelie bins into the Quays and tampering with emergency life saving equipment.
God..I'm not going to Salford Quays ever again...I'll be bankrupt within half an hour... fuck that... https://t.co/5e6V7EPNHs— Claire Hannah (@Claire_journo) March 3, 2016
"Over 130 local residents responded to the consultation about whether to introduce this order. Of those 76% were in favour of the order and 94% agreed with a ban on causing general disturbance including being abusive to other persons, using foul language, being rowdy and inconsiderate."
salford quays is so pretty how am i going to express my appreciation if i get an on-the-spot fine for saying "fuck me this is rad"— Laura ✿ (@imvaldemaximu) March 3, 2016