Caught short: This is what could happen if you’re found defecating in Sunderland city centre

There’s been an increase in the number of people defecating and urinating in public spaces in Sunderland.

Friday, 16th August 2019, 1:49 pm
Updated Friday, 16th August 2019, 2:11 pm
Sunderland City Centre shopping at Market Square

Following this revelation, which was posted to Facebook by Sunderland BID, we have taken a look at what the penalty would be if you were caught out – or caught short.

Many police forces take any reports of people doing these acts as either an act of outraging public decency, or a straight-forward public order offence.

Public decency is a level of behaviour which is generally acceptable to the public and is not obscene, disgusting or shocking for observers.

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Police officers in do have discretion for most offences

Outraging public decency is punishable by an unlimited prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine, imposed by a court.

This is what needs to happen for you to be guilty of this offence

You must carry out an act which is lewd, obscene or of disgusting character, which outrages minimum standards of public decency as assessed by the jury. The act must take place in a public place, or a place which is accessible to, or within view of, the public. The act must take place in the actual presence of two or more persons who are capable of seeing it – it is irrelevant whether these people actually saw the act or were outraged by it.

Normally, this offence is reserved for offences linked to public exposure.

What happens next?

A spokesman for the force said the punishment would be down to the individual officer, who can have discretion in most cases, especially if the offence was due to a medical complaint.

However, in most cases they advised that they would consider the punishment of section 5 of the Public Order Act as appropriate.

The spokesman added: “We do treat this as a public order offence as it can cause alarm, distress and/or harassment.

“People who are caught doing this can receive a summons.”

Anyone guilty of the public order offence could be sent to magistrates’ court, receive a fine, and a criminal record.