London police fined a 5-year-old girl $195 (£150) for selling lemonade without a permit earlier this week, according to the girl’s father.
The girl was selling her lemonade on a street near Victoria Park in eastern London when several police officers “stormed up to her little table,” Andre Spicer, the girl’s father and professor of organizational behavior at the University of London, wrote in The Telegraph.
When the girl first suggested selling lemonade to pass the time during her summer holiday, Spicer thought that the idea “sounded very American, but it would entertain her and she might even learn a thing of two.”
The girl did learn that selling goods on the street without a permit was a serious offense after the officers read a long statement about the town’s legal codes and issued the fine. “But don’t worry, it is only £90 if it’s paid quickly,” the officer said.
The girl was upset, crying and asking her father “have I done a bad thing?” Andre wrote in his column. “We can get a permit and have a stall another day,” Andre told his daughter. “No. It’s too scary,” the girl said.
The town authorities eventually canceled the fine, British outlet ITV News reports. “We are very sorry that this has happened,” a spokesman for the town told ITV News. “We expect our enforcement officers to show common sense, and to use their powers sensibly. This clearly did not happen. The fine will be canceled immediately and we have contacted Professor Spicer and his daughter to apologize.”
“I think the wider issue here is a question about encouraging children to have a go at things, whether it’s starting a small business or putting on a play or whatever they want to do,” Spicer told ITV. “Children are under a lot of pressure these days and are often not encouraged to take risks.”
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