Laws and rules in the UK


There are 52 police forces in Britain, mainly organised on a local basis. The Metropolitan Police Force and the City of London force are responsible for policing London.

The heart of policing is the work done by police constables, who are in constant contact with the public. They patrol the streets on foot, or in cars, give advice and deal with disturbances.



Alcohol is classed as a drug in the UK and there are laws controlling the sale of it to people over a certain age.

• It is illegal to give an alcoholic drink to a child under five except under medical supervision in an emergency.
• Children under 16 can go anywhere in a pub as long as they are supervised by an adult, but cannot have any alcoholic drinks.
• Young people aged 16 or 17 can drink beer, wine or cider with a meal if it is bought by an adult and they are accompanied by an adult. It is illegal for this age group to drink spirits in pubs even with a meal.
• In Scotland, 16 and 17-year-olds can buy beer, wine or cider so long as it’s served with a meal and consumed in an area used solely for eating meals.
• It is against the law for anyone under 18 to buy alcohol in a pub, off-licence, supermarket, or other outlet, or for anyone to buy alcohol for someone under 18 to consume in a pub or a public place.
• Some towns and cities have local by-laws banning drinking alcohol in public.



Lots of people carry and use knives in the course of their work and this is fine. However, it is an offence to carry around with you a knife which has a blade or is sharply pointed. This includes a pocket knife with a cutting edge more than 7.62cm or 3 inches.

If you are found to be carrying a knife in a public place you will be arrested.


Public Order Hate Crimes

A hate crime is a serious criminal offence committed against a person or property due to hatred of that person’s gender, race, religion, colour, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. People who do these sorts of things can be prosecuted in the courts. Those who attack others because of their gender, disability, sexuality, race or religion can be evicted from their homes, fined, be subject to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders or put in prison.

Authorities such as the police, local authorities and schools have a duty to protect you. There are practical steps that agencies can take to help challenge harassment and support the victims.



There are special rules about solvents.

  • Shopkeepers are breaking the law if they sell solvents to people under the age of 18 who they think are going to abuse them.
  • They can also refuse to sell them to someone over 18, if they believe that person is buying them for people under 18.
  • Some solvent products have caused so many deaths and injuries that no one under 18 can buy them at all. Even if the shopkeeper doesn’t think they will be used for solvent abuse.



Children under the age of 18 cannot buy any form of tobacco.



The Urban 75 website has more information on drug laws in the UK.

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