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Lady Justice

The Strangest Laws in the UK

If you are searching for a criminology course, the chances are you will know the difference between right and wrong. Yet have you heard of the Salmon Act of 1986 (yes, as in the fish) or know what the laws are if a dead whale is found on the British coast? Yeah, we didn’t think so. To avoid any of you getting arrested before taking your course, we thought we would share some of the strangest laws in the UK.

1. It’s illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

The building is considered a royal palace which would mean the deceased would be entitled to a state funeral. So if you feel like you are dying – don’t. 

2. Talking of dying, the head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the King, and the tail automatically becomes property of the Queen. 

Leaping whale

Just keep swimming free Willy. 

3. It’s illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour. 

Man in suit of armour

4. In the 17th Century, Oliver Cromwell banned the eating of mince pies on Christmas Day, technically this is still law. 

Mince pies

5. It’s illegal to flag down a London taxi if you have the plague. Go on the underground instead. 

London cabs in a line

6. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down. 

British postage stamps

7. It is also illegal to doodle on a banknote or deface the Queen’s face, so put that pen away. 

Twenty pound notes

8. A now obsolete law, but in the 19th century it was illegal for women to eat chocolate on public transport. 

London Underground

9. Welshman are prohibited from entering Chester before the sun rises and have to leave before the sun goes down. 

Welsh Flag

10. Because of this, in Chester, it is technically ok to shoot a Welshman after midnight on Sunday with a crossbow, as long as it’s in the city walls. 

Archer firing arrow

11. Under the ‘Salmon Act of 1986’ it is illegal to handle salmon under suspicious circumstances in the UK, so no smuggling it in your coat pocket. 


12. You can’t carry a plank along the pavement, so if you are carrying shelves from IKEA you could be arrested. One more reason to buy online. 

Planks of wood

If you have any more strange laws, why not give us a shout on Facebook or Twitter? Or if you are ready to learn more about the more serious stuff, take a look at the criminology courses listed on our site. 

Browse Criminology courses here

Last updated: 16 Oct 2019

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