Police have apologised after flyers were sent to families in Surrey telling them it was a criminal offence for children to play sport in the street. Residents of Southville Road, Thames Ditton received the notices from Surrey Police last month. One resident, Tom Muir, said it was a "knee-jerk reaction" to complaints that cars had been hit by footballs.
Insp David Hollingsworth later apologised, saying playing was not "in any way
criminal behaviour". The leaflet said Surrey Police reminded parents and youths of their legal and
social responsibilities following a number of complaints. "Playing football or other sports in the street is a criminal offence,
particularly if someone is affected, such as being involved in an accident, or
where the activity has caused them annoyance, alarm or distress," it said.
Insp Hollingsworth sent his apology to all residents who received the
leaflet. "The main purpose of the flyer was to identify the concerns and emphasise the
obvious dangers involved in playing in the road," he said. It correctly identified that playing games such as football on the highway
may be unlawful in some circumstances; however this would not in any way be
"Please accept my apologies for the way in which the leaflet put this message
across and for any offence it may have caused." A Surrey Police spokeswoman said phrasing in the original flyer was "a little
bit unfortunate". She said sending out the flyer was not a misconduct offence by any officers
and was not done maliciously.