We might claim to be law-abiding but each of us breaks 260 rules a year

We may have a reputation as being a reserved lot, but the British are actually a nation of rule-breakers.

A study has found that many people break 260 rules a year - but we can't really claim to be dare-devils as, for most of us, this brush with danger involves using a neighbour's bin or pinching stationary from the office.

Research shows that the average Brit knowingly breaks five rules every week, which amounts to 16,250 acts of rebellion in the average adult lifetime.

Dropping cigarette butts and sticking chewing gum to surfaces are among commonly flouted decencies, according to the report by cleaning specialists Karcher.

Cycling on the pavement, using other people's Wi-Fi and ignoring 'do not walk on the grass' signs are also sins we regularly commit.

But less than a fifth of us (18 per cent) actually feel guilty about these little misdemeanours.

Other common acts of defiance include sneakily trimming a neighbour's hedge, not returning library books or sitting in a reserved train seat.

Meanwhile, stealing sachets of sauce from cafes, parking on double yellow lines and pretending children are younger to pay cheaper entrance fees are shady acts Brits are frequently guilty of.

Nearly half of us (41 per cent) blame 'being in a rush' for disregarding rules and laws, and many of us struggle to see the victim in many of our mini crimes.

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The study, of 2,000 adults, found two thirds (68 per cent) only feel guilty if the wounded party is obviously a small business or single person rather than a large corporation.

But it seems we're utterly hypocritical, taking a very dim view of others' transgressions.

Nearly half of us (41 per cent) blame 'being in a rush' for disregarding rules and laws, and many of us struggle to see the victim in many of our midsdemeanours

We are infuriated when we witness other people neglecting the environment, with those who don't pick up dog mess being the most annoying by far (75 per cent).

Six in ten are wound up by those who throw litter from a car window (59 per cent), 57 per cent annoyed by dropping chewing gum on the floor and leaving litter on the train or bus riles 44 per cent.

Over two-thirds of people (69 per cent) believe litter and graffiti make an area look rundown, with other bug-bears including unkempt gardens (59 per cent) and cigarette ends on the floor (49 per cent).

Eighty per cent says it makes them feel proud when their area has been tidied up - and there's no graffiti in sight

How our street, local area or community area looks certainly affects our mood, with 80 per cent saying it makes them feel proud when their area has been tidied up.

And it can also impact property values. Research shows external mess and signs of neglect can wipe 5 per cent off the price, equating to an 8,000pounds loss on the average UK property.

Run in conjunction with charity Keep Britain Tidy, the 'Karcher Cleans Britain' campaign encourages people to clean up their streets and keep them tidy throughout 2013.

Psychologist Professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University, says we break rules we don't perceive as serious.

Prof Cooper CBE said: 'Only certain groups of people will break these rules, and they do it because they don't really see it as serious.

'They might rationalise something like dropping litter to themselves as 'Well, I pay my taxes for someone to pick up after me'.

'Other very legalistic structured types will adhere to the rules no matter what. It's about priorities - rule breakers don't see the rules they flout as a priority.

'As for looking down on others who break rules, human beings are very idiosyncratic.

'We will adhere to certain rules ourselves and castigate others for not doing so, but hvae no qualms about brekaing other rules.

'Clearly, Brits see these minor municipal rules as insignificant but of course if everybody broke them there would be no books in the library and rubbish all over the place.'

Prof Cooper said behaviour would change if authorities issued on the spot fines or if members of the public told offenders off.


1. Crossing a pedestrian crossing when man is red - 33 per cent

2. Taking sachets from cafes - 30

3. Not recycling properly - 27

4. Take stationery from work - 23

5. Passing parking tickets to others to save them money - 22

6. Not tipping in restaurants - 21

7. Pocketing change when given wrong amount - 21

8. Sprayed yourself with tester perfume instead of buying your own - 21

9. Eating or drinking at the wheel - 18

10. Not clearing your table at a fast food restaurant - 14

11. Used someone else's WIFI - 14

12. Putting your feet up on the train - 13

13. Putting rubbish in a neighbours bin if yours is full - 12

14. Watching pirate videos - 12

15. Cycling on a pavement - 11

16. Downloading music illegally - 11

17. Using your mobile while driving - 10

18. Throwing down cigarette butts - 9

19. Driving in a bus lane - 9

20. Dropping litter in the street - 9