Police tell fans 'fly your England flag with pride during World Cup' - officers quash myth they ask for St George's cross to be removed

England flags
England flags

Police have moved to end the myth that they tell fans to take England flags down during football tournaments - and urged people to fly the St George's cross with pride during the World Cup.

Northumbria Police have issued a statement in a bid to nip rumours in the bud before England's first World Cup game.

"Every time England are taking part in a major tournament rumours surface that we are asking for flags to be taken down from windows and flagpoles," the force posted on its Facebook page.

"It simply isn't true and we find ourselves posting a message on here to reassure you that you can fly your St George's flag with pride.

"We are as excited as everyone else for the World Cup and there will be a real buzz around the region when England take to the field with a number of big screens showing the game.

"There are laws around when flags can be flown but you shouldn't expect a knock on your door from police if you hang one from your window."

Here is a look at some of the laws around flags:

Can you drive with a flag attached to your car window?

This advice is from the official Ask the Police website:

The issues to consider about driving with flags attached to the car are:

Vision - does the flag obscure the driver or any others drivers vision of the road?

Could it be classed as an insecure load, i.e. likely to come off and cause damage/injury?

The size of the flag - a normal flag (usually about the size of A4 paper) would not normally cause any problems but obviously the larger the flag the more potential for problems.

There is an offence of having a mascot/emblem on the car that, if the vehicle were to collide with someone, the mascot would strike them and cause injury. If the mascot is not likely to cause injury to a person by reason that it may bend, retract or detach itself from the vehicle then no offence would be committed.

So, although there is not a specific offence, you could commit an offence by having a flag on your car. It is the officer's discretion whether or not to take matters further if he/she feels that an offence has been committed.

The Government guidance on flying flags on properties

The Government's official advice on the Department for Communities and Local Government website states "flags are a very British way of expressing joy and pride – they are emotive symbols which can boost local and national identities and strengthen community cohesion."

Changes to regulations which widen the types of flags which you may fly in England were introduced in 2012, after calls for common sense changes.

It came after rows over some councils in the UK asking for flags to be taken down on health and safety grounds.

All flag flying is subject to some standard conditions. Flags are treated as advertisements for the purposes of planning permission, and some require formal consent from the local planning authority, whereas others do not.

All flags must be:

:: Maintained in a condition that does not impair the overall visual appearance of the site where they are being flown

:: Kept in a safe condition

:: Have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed (this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on highway land);

:: Not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport

:: Removed carefully where so required by the planning authority

Flags which do not need consent to be flown

a) Any country’s national flag, civil ensign or civil air ensign

b) The flag of the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Nations or any other international organisation of which the United Kingdom is a member;

c) A flag of any island, county, district, borough, burgh, parish, city, town or village within the United Kingdom

d) The flag of the Black Country, East Anglia, Wessex, any Part of Lincolnshire, any Riding of Yorkshire or any historic county within the United Kingdom

e) The flag of Saint David

f) The flag of Saint Patrick

g) The flag of any administrative area within any country outside the United Kingdom

The above flags or their flagpoles must not display any advertisement or subject matter additional to the design of the flag, but the regulations now highlight that you can attach a black mourning ribbon to either the flag or flagpole where the flag cannot be flown at half mast, for example, when flying a flag on a flagpole projecting at an angle from the side of a building.

The use of the word “country” in (a) and (g) of the list above, includes any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and any British Overseas Territory.

The flags of St George and St Andrew are recognised as the national flags of England and Scotland, but the flags of St David and St Patrick are listed separately as they do not necessarily fall into the category of a country’s national flag.

Flags which do not require consent provided they comply with certain restrictions

A number of categories of flag may be flown without consent, subject to certain restrictions regarding the size of the flag, the size of characters on the flag, and the number and location of the flags.

Categories of flag that can now be flown:

• House flag - flag is allowed to display the name, emblem, device or trademark of the company (or person) occupying the building, or can refer to a specific event of limited duration that is taking place in the building from which the flag is flown

• Any sports club (but cannot include sponsorship logos)

• The horizontal striped rainbow flag, such as the “Pride” Flag

• Specified award schemes - Eco-Schools, Queens Awards for Enterprise and Investors in People The restrictions on flying this second category of flag relate to where the flagpole (flagstaff) is located on a building or within the grounds of a building. Flying a flag on a vertical flagpole from the roof of a building

• Only one flag on a vertical flagpole on the roof of a building is permitted

• There are no restrictions on the size of flag

• No restrictions on the size of any character or symbol displayed on the flag, except where a flag is flown within an area of outstanding natural beauty, area of special control*, the Broads, conservation area or a National Park (referred to elsewhere as “controlled areas”) where the characters may be no more than 0.75 metre in height (0.3 metre in height in an area of special control)

• It is permitted to fly one flag on a vertical flagpole on the roof of a building and one flag within the grounds of the building without consent (subject to restrictions below).

However it is not permitted to fly a flag on a projecting flagpole and on a vertical roof top flagpole without consent.

Flying one or two flags within the grounds of a building

You can now fly up to two flags (before the changes only one flag was allowed) within the grounds (the regulations refer to “curtilage”) of a building subject to the conditions listed below:

• There are no restrictions on the size of the flag, but any flagpole may not exceed 4.6 metres above ground level

• Consent is required if the flag is to be flown in a controlled area

• Up to two flags can be flown without consent in the grounds of a building, but only one flag can be flown within the grounds of a building if another flag is either being flown from the roof, or is projecting from the building