Obstruction of Public Pavements - is it a criminal offence?

Seems rather reactionary to call an emergency line for such a non-event. Do you have OCD? I’m sure the obstruction is temporary and will be moved as the project is complete. Pretty common in urban centers.


Its calls like yours that impede the fight against criminality.


1 - it is a criminal offence. Statistically, It is as likely to be treated as such by the police as rape. Many reasons for this but resources are not really the issue in respect of this. Generally the police themselves believe they can block pavements with impunity. It’s hardly rare to see them parked 100% on a pavement; parked on double yellows for an hour or more and so on in any major UK city. They simply don’t see a crime given what they themselves believe is reasonable.

Resource wise one officer walking down a road could record every pavement obstruction with relative ease in terms of both the paperwork or more practically asking people to move any offending items. Nothing to do with resources. More that it’s not a priority for the police or local authorities.

2 - 999 were wholly wrong and were you to complain they would back down fairly quickly. You can legitimately call if you believe a crime is about to take place or has done so. It is not their role to gatekeep any calls which meet that criteria. They can tell you that your call does not meet the criteria but once it does what happens next is nothing to do with them. I’ve had reason to complain about exactly this on three occasions. Once when I believed a crime was about to take place - twenty five teenagers on my wall and in my garden being the clue - and twice when the pavement was obstructed. All three complaints were upheld; apologies were offered in writing and in one instance matters went much further.

3 - the purpose of 999 is to connect you to the appropriate emergency service. In the case of the police the criteria is not and never has been “it’s an emergency”. The criteria is “crime has taken place or is about to”. Once that criteria has been met the police will decide the priority they give to the call. I absolutely agree that events described above were not an emergency but then that isn’t the criteria.

Important to remember that the offence is obstruction of part or whole. If you park one or two wheels of your vehicle on the kerb outside your home then you have likely committed this offence.

What makes me sad is that it takes the really really obvious such as a pile of bricks for people to even begin to see the consequences. Older people are the least likely victims of such stupidity. See if you can navigate past it using a walking stick or crutches. Then try and imagine it for someone walking a dog; pushing a push chair; pushing a double buggy; in a wheelchair or mobility scooter or with a visual impairment (with or without one of the six canes). Once you view this through the eyes of others you’ll soon see it everywhere.

Police parking is an issue. Local parking is another. However, take a look at the displays outside your local supermarket and whether they spill into the pavement or, increasingly, onto tactile paving. Your local cafe and its chairs. The local flower shop and its displays. The bike shop that puts the bike display out in a different way every day. Some of these will be licensed/have permission. Increasingly those we assume would absolutely have that… do not. When you’re looking at these things try and click the street furniture. The grids; the boxes; the seats and the many posts. The smallest and most temporary of obstructions can drive someone unable to pass into the road or back home.

I see nothing reactionary in reporting it to 999. The only way you get criminal issues addressed is to report them as crimes requiring immediate action through the appropriate route. Do it repeatedly in a short period and it’s really interesting how the attitude of local police changes for the better.

@anon55098131 keep reporting similar. You’ll be amazed.


What I’m saying is if the BS regulations including a formal application to the local auth BC for a temporary footway obstuction is a civil matter.

Getting this resolved is probably best done by calling the house owner &/or the builder.
That will take a few minutes/hours.
Getting the local auth BC dept to act can take weeks.

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Not in my experience. I’ve had same day responses in three different areas of the UK.

My view exactly.


I take the view that a crime has been committed and that this should therefore be reported to the police as a matter of urgency - especially as it poses an immediate danger. It is not my responsibility to approach anyone to resolve it. In the case of the commition of a criminal offence this is clearly the responsibility of the police.


Well good luck with that one.

We have something similar to this a short distance from our house; a brand new one erected following the creation of a new close of 5 replacing 1 bungalow. Why it’s in the middle of the pavement like that is beyond me; there was nothing there originally.


I must say I’m surprised and a little shocked that several people here seem to take the view that I’m over-reacting to something that’s really of minor importance.

Yes, in the overall big-picture it’s hardly the crime of the century. But it is nevertheless a criminal offence that should be dealt with by the people that society entrusts to do this, ie. the police.

I must of missed somewhere the information that committing less serious crimes is now perfectly OK and will be justifiably overlooked by the local police. I confess it’s news to me.

Whether or not the police have the resources to deal with various crimes is one thing. In my book that does not equate to not bothering to report any crime that is committed on the grounds that it’s not serious enough to warrant police time and attention. That is a decision to be made ultimately by the courts - the justice system.

All crime should be reported - no matter how trivial. Then let justice take it’s course.


How sad that people actually have a problem with a wholly legitimate approach. Not many activists here then. All talk.

In my previous locale we had an ongoing issue with people on foot and on bikes scouting out our courtyard for crime against vehicles and property which then took place overnight or within the week. Police attitude was that we were out of line calling 999 the moment anyone entered the courtyard peering into cars, letter boxes and so on. We couldn’t prove they were anything other than passers by.

This was exacerbated by information inadvertently leaked to us as residents that the police had informally decided that any 999 calls from our postcode were to be downgraded and no response prioritised unless further calls were received within 30 minutes. As residents we co-ordinated and the next time we spotted anyone suspicious 1 rang 999 and then started a round robin to other residents overlooking the courtyard. Each clocked the person(s) and called 999. Local police went ballistic; claimed it was a waste of their time; even tried to use the local media against us. At the time our crime rate was a minimum of 3 per week and 1 in 4 properties had been targeted. We publicly responded with the 30 minutes accusation; involved local councillors and the MP re: same. Nothing changed. So, we simply carried on. A resident was threatened with a charge of wasting police time. Bit unfortunate then that the photos of the person we’d all videod and photographed matched those taken when the same person broke into a car a couple of nights later. They smashed the passenger side window and were about to slide in when the resident slid into the drivers side; shut the window on them whilst they were in mid air and started to both take camera phone images of them and drive off towards the local police station whilst dialling 999.

We all joined in calling 999 at 1:30am and mysteriously found the usual non response. Gave the media a great story; a lad who lived locally and worked for the police then agreed to speak to the media about the 30 minute thing and within days we had a community police officer and car and foot patrols hourly every day and night. Crime dropped to zero.

When we moved to where we are now the local kids decided that our estate and its green were their playground. No issue with that until the broken glass started appearing in gardens; doors started getting g Dante’s; fences smashed etc. Locals are much more middle class than where we originally lived. Their solution was to move away after having “discussions” on Facebook. Loads of houses up for sale and prices crashed.

I called a local meeting; advised of our previous tactics and got lots of NIMBY pulled faces. People who thought 999 was simply beneath them; an admission of failure etc.

Did it myself. Every time the gang arrived I went out; took photos; put them on Twitter whilst tagging GMP and local schools and called 999 as their arrival always brought alcohol; noise; damage etc. Usual initial reaction from the police. Usual threats. I went on record and said that I knew the law; knew it was a legit use of 999 and would be persisting.

It was probably the 11:30pm call which did it. The police cracked and a white van appeared with 12 cops in it. They rounded up all the kids; plonked them on our wall and very loudly got names; addresses and parental details. Every kid got an order. All local kids not off the estate were banned and all was well.

Two choices in life. Moan or do something. Dead easy to be critical of people who do something as here. Absolutely wrong though.


That’s a great example of an instant access issue created out of nowhere.

All in all, it’s just another …

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I am not sure calling 999 to report some bricks in the pavement is a “wholy legitimate approach” I would class it as a non emergency and therefore the police should be informed in a different manner. But then I am not an “activist” whatever that is meant to mean.


See previous posts. The problem is that people have been misled into believing that the criteria for ringing 999 for the police is that it’s an emergency. This is incorrect. The criteria is that a crime has been or is about to be committed.


Yeah, here in the states this would be a civil matter. Our police orgs are generally consumed with criminal matters. As you say the approach to more likely yield results is to have a quick conversation with the builder, they may not even know the bricks are there, maybe a new guy made a dumb mistake. Who knows. They’d likely resolve it. If not, and if it’s a legitimate work site the work permit # should be visible and one could contact the permit office/org and report the violation. I understand there are varying degrees of offenses and there could be a case where obstruction of access could reach a criminal level but I expect these situations will be rare.

An activist is generally no more than someone who gets off their arse and does something about things that others prefer to moan about on forums. The horror actual action elicits is generally amusing. People who say that they “wouldn’t have done that” generally fall into the category of people who do nothing at all. It’s always for others to do.

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The criteria, listed on a police service website:

Advice for calling 999:

call when it’s an emergency
a crime is in progress
someone suspected of a crime is nearby
when there is danger to life
when violence is being used or threatened

If you don’t need an emergency response, then you should call 101 or use our online reporting form on our website.

This could be to report a crime or to seek advice, for example your car has been stolen, your property has been damaged or you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood.


You mean the type of person who spends 5 mins gathering up the loose bricks to make them less of a hazard?


Absolute rubbish.