Mapped: London’s Banned Zones

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The Manifesto Club has released a map detailing the 435 zones across London where normally legal activities are prohibited.

The map lists five kinds of activity that are, while ostensibly legal, are subject to restrictions in certain zones. They include:

  • Dog-walking; taking your pooch for a stroll in one of the banned areas can lead to a fine or prosecution (219 zones);
  • Gathering: in a ‘dispersal zone’ the police have power, under the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, to ask groups of two or more to leave an area for 24 hours or risk arrest (32 zones);
  • Protesting: since anti-war protestors were evicted earlier this year, many areas around Parliament and Whitehall are now off-limits to protests;
  • Drinking alcohol: police officers can swipe your hooch and arrest you if you don’t give it up freely (74 zones);
  • Leafleting: handing out a leaflet in one of these areas without a licence can lead to a fine or prosecution (110 zones).

According to the president of the Manifesto Club, Josie Appleton, the map, which has largely been compiled from Freedom of Information Act requests,

shows that ordinary freedoms and legal protections have been suspended in large areas of public space. An everyday activity can now be an offence if you do it on the wrong street.

On a borough-by-borough level, it’s best to avoid handing out flyers around Kensington & Chelsea (43 no-leafleting zones) while the most dog-unfriendly boroughs would appear to be Haringey and Islington (67 dog exclusion zones apiece). Of London’s 33 local authorities, 14 have borough-wide alcohol restriction zones — though the victims are unlikely to be the poor family enjoying a bottle of Chablis with their picnic that the Daily Mail frets over.

With precious little information on the street demarcating these zones, the map suggests that hundreds of innocent people could be unwittingly falling foul of bylaws; the Manifesto Club cites the case of one North Woolwich resident fined after walking her dog without a lead, though this does seem a rare case. But the image of a city whose citizens are treading an ever-narrowing line between their “ordinary freedoms” and the increasing clout of a censorious state should be disturbing for any Londoner.

See also:

A map of private London

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  • http://www.facebook.com/csbm.london1 Csbm London

    I noticed one of these no alcohol zones covered my own park just outside London. I say, my own park as it is situated perfectly as a substitute garden. I will often sit there with a glass of wine to read a book on a Sunday. I like the fact that it does not completely outlaw the drinking of alcohol though I dislike the fact that the decision is left up to a standard bobby to make.

    I would guess that most of the time the restriction would only be applied if there were unruly groups spoiling the enjoyment of the park for other people. This does sort of make sense in a utilitarian way, but the problem is that many ostensibly unruly groups consider themselves to be well mannered, approachable and polite. Ultimately the decision will come down to other people’s points of view which are usually biased by stereotyping.

  • http://twitter.com/zefrog Nicolas Chinardet

    I would be interesting to include privately managed public spaces to this map.Those locations that seem public but are effectively private property, often sold off by public bodies.

  • CanAmSteve

    Well, they missed at least one. That’s the “No Photography” zone posted outside the Israeli embassy on Kensington Palace Gardens. Since pedestrian traffic is allowed, this is worrying (the authorities do know about how good miniature video cameras are, don’t they?) and appears to have no basis in law, but there it is, plain as day, for everyone to see.

    But not photograph.