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Legal Quandary: Dacorum Borough Council Defends Prosecution for Outdoor Urination

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Dacorum Borough Council is standing firm on its decision to prosecute two individuals for allegedly urinating in the woods, despite facing criticism from prominent lawyers questioning the legality of such actions.

A resident from Winslow was fined £88 for relieving himself in the wild, while another individual faced legal action for outdoor urination. The Guardian has reported that the penalty fee for the second person was revoked after it was argued that council officials did not witness the act.

The controversy stems from Dacorum Borough Council’s assertion that both men were engaged in littering, as per their interpretation of the law. A council spokesperson explained to The Guardian that concerns raised by residents about people urinating near busy laybys prompted them to deploy officers to these areas, aiming to create more pleasant spaces for all residents.

A Freedom of Information request obtained by a barrister, as reported by The Guardian, revealed that the council is using section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act to prosecute residents in these cases.

However, notable lawyer Jolyon Maugham, the director of the Good Law Project, contested this interpretation, stating to The Guardian that he does not believe these cases constitute littering. Maugham argued that the context-specific nature of the term “litter” should be taken into account, suggesting that urinating in the woods does not fall under this category.

Another well-known lawyer, Nick Freeman, also known as ‘Mr Loophole,’ pointed to a different clause in the Environmental Act, Section 98, which he claims is more widely accepted by the public in defining litter.

Michael Mason, the Winslow resident who received a fine for urinating near King’s Langley, had his penalty rescinded after presenting a medical letter from his GP explaining his weakened prostate.

Dacorum Borough Council, reportedly dispatching enforcement officers to catch individuals in the act at laybys, cites a specific section of the Environmental Act to support its actions. In response to criticism, the council acknowledged the need to assess each case individually, considering the specific location and characteristics of the individuals involved, and allowing for a right of representation to be duly considered. This process has resulted in fixed penalty notices being rescinded in certain circumstances, according to the council’s statement to The Guardian.

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