Jan 21 2013
The Daily Mail
First Conkers, now snowballs. Why don’t we just stand our kids in a cupboard and be done with it?
At least the Daily Mail appear to have made the right call for once. Yes snowballs are irritating once you reach a certain age, but its hardly a police matter. If the Old Bill have so little to do that they have the time to respond to cases of assault by snowball, then I can understand the reason behind reducing their new recruits wages by four grand a year.
You’re picking your way carefully along an icy pavement when suddenly – thwack! – a snowball thrown by an unseen hand hits you on the back of the head.
As you stop to dry off, you look round for the pesky little brat who threw it, but there’s no one to be seen.
Irritating, of course, but hardly a matter for the police … unless, that is, you live in County Durham.
The force there provoked derision yesterday after threatening to arrest children found throwing snowballs at cars or bystanders.
It announced that its officers would crack down on anyone caught lobbing them at those who don’t wish to partake in a snowball fight.
Posting a message on Facebook, police from the Neighbourhood Police Team in the town of Crook said: ‘Crook Beat Team are aware that it has been snowing and that people are going to have fun in it, however if anyone is caught throwing snowballs at vehicles or on to the road, they could be arrested.
‘Likewise, if anyone throws snowballs at persons’ homes or at people who do not want to be involved in the snow games, they could be arrested and it will be classed as anti-social behaviour.’
An arrest for anti-social behaviour is normally dealt with by a fixed penalty order.
But the police warning received widespread ridicule online, with residents saying that throwing snowballs was a centuries-old tradition that could not be stopped by a Facebook message.
One, Eddie Philips of Wolsingham, said: ‘What an absolute joke. I can’t believe the times we live in that police would see fit to make such a ridiculous pronouncement online. How preposterous.
‘I can understand them doing it if people had put stones in the snowballs, but that’s not what they mean, is it?’
Paul Emmerton, of Middlesbrough, accused officers of ‘sucking the fun from everything’.
And Chris Clynes said: ‘We’ve had one thrown through our slightly ajar backdoor and it knocked the fabric softener off the top of the tumble dryer. Good shot but annoying. I would have done the same when I was younger.’
Durham Police said they did not want to spoil fun or ban snowballs completely, but were simply issuing advice.
A spokesman said: ‘It might seem like innocent fun but it could have serious consequences. The problem in Crook is no worse than anywhere else, but the team thought they would head the problem off at the pass.’ No arrests have yet been made.
The move came after plummeting night-time temperatures and snowfall across large parts led to treacherous conditions on the roads and underfoot.
And while much of the country escaped any serious snowfall yesterday, it remained bitterly cold. In parts of Yorkshire, residents were bracing themselves for temperatures of -8C (18F) tonight.
In Norfolk more than 40 schools were forced to close for the day and Norwich airport also had to shut for a time.
The AA estimated it has seen a 30 per cent rise in the number of breakdowns since the cold snap started, while the RAC has put extra patrols on the roads. The Highways Agency has a 500-strong fleet of salt spreaders and snowploughs on standby.
The Met Office issued an amber weather warning, predicting severe weather for all of England.
The icy conditions are likely to last into the weekend and beyond, with a risk of snow and ice next week.