London: Local councils across Britain are likely to get the authority to make spitting a criminal offence, with the measure being initially rolled out in a borough in London.
Communities and local government minister Eric Pickles has given provisional approval for Enfield Council in north London to criminalise spitting in public places and warned that such behaviour in public was not acceptable.
The by-law, which bans spitting in public "without reasonable excuse", will be enforced by magistrates` courts.
"Spitting is a deeply anti-social and unpleasant practice. Spitting on Britain`s streets is not socially acceptable," Pickles said.
"In light of the cross-party support and backing of ruling and opposition groups, we are giving the go-ahead to new powers for Enfield Council to tackle these localised problems," he said.
Enfield Council`s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Chris Bond, told The Daily Telegraph: "This is a victory for the people of Enfield who were overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on spitting in this borough.
"It is an awful and disgusting habit and I`m delighted we can now get on with banning this filthy practice. I hope other local authorities will now follow suit."
A month-long consultation will take place before Pickles is asked to confirm the by-law. It would come into force a month after the confirmation process.
Provisional approval was previously granted to Doncaster Council to ban spitting on streets. Doncaster`s proposal would see fines of up to 500 pounds imposed on anyone successfully prosecuted for spitting in public.
Other councils, including Leicester City Council and Waltham Forest in east London, have avoided the need for new by-laws by classifying spitting as "waste".
In Leicester, a fine of 50 pounds was introduced in 2011 and a fine of 80 pounds was introduced for spitting in Waltham Forest in February this year.