10 Weird British Laws That Still Exist in the UK

By Carlin Peton

Did you know that here in the UK, we have a bunch of weird laws that are still technically written in the law books, but are lowkey not enforced?

Check some of the most outdated and absurd laws that still exist in Britain:


In the UK, you’re not allowed to dress up as a police officer, sailor, or soldier even if it’s for a costume party or for the purposes of stripping.

Next time you’re invited to a fancy dress party, remember the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906 that renders it illegal for a person to pretend to be in the armed forces, and the Police Act 1996 says the same thing for anyone dressed as a fake copper.


When a whale or sturgeon becomes beached, it must be offered up to the reigning monarch.

An obscure 14th-century statute called the “Prerogative Regis”, or “the King’s Prerogative” gives that all whales and sturgeons found on the coast are technically the property of the Crown.

“They are classified as royal fish,” said Mr Deaville, who works for the Zoological Society of London. “A very ancient statute gave the head of the Crown the right to all the cetaceans stranded around the UK. The king had the right to the head and the queen had the right to the tail.” But Mr Deaville is not aware of a monarch ever asking for part of a whale.


It is an offence to handle a salmon and look at all suspicious.

Section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986 specifically outlaws “handling salmon in suspicious circumstances”. So please don’t do it… 

You can be fined up to £1000 for hanging your washing across the street in the UK.

Fines of up to £1000 await the citizen who tries to hang clothes on a line across a street, according to the Town Police Clauses Act of 1847


The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 also says that it’s breaking the law to knock on someone’s front door and run away.

The children’s game of Knock, Knock, Ginger was apparently such a menace in the 19th century that Parliament made it illegal to “willfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant” at their door without lawful excuse. Well, I guess you are probably a criminal…


It’s illegal to jump the queue when waiting in the ticket hall of the tube.

Under the Transport for London Railway Bye-Laws, Bye-Law 1, any person directed to queue by an authorised person or a sign must join the end of the queue and obey reasonable instructions by any authorised person regulating the queue within the TfL Network.


It’s an offence to beat or shake your carpet or rug in the street in London.

The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 strikes again! You can shake your doormat out, but only before 8 am.


It’s actually illegal to be found drunk in the pub.

Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872 outlaws “every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises”. If you can’t hold your liquor, you could be facing a whopping £200 fine.


Firing a cannon within 300 yards of a private dwelling is a big no-no.

If you’re caught playing with your firearm of a greater calibre than a common fowling-piece near someone’s home, you could be fined £200.


It’s illegal to walk cows down the street in the daylight.

Under the Metropolitan Streets Act, farmers and proud pet owners are not permitted to walk their cows through the streets between 10 am and 7 pm, unless they have a note from the Commissioner of Police.