1. ITV Report

Middlesbrough mum caught smoking with children in the car

Photo: PA

A driver is thought to be the first on Teesside to be prosecuted for smoking in a car with a child. Joanne Jones was caught on Christmas Eve on Union Street, central Middlesbrough, with two young children in a car.

The legislation was introduced in October 2015 after a campaign by Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham said:

My campaign was never really about punishing people it was about educating them.

It’s sad that any case ends up in court, but I would hope that the publicity may help drive that message home that smoking with a child in the car is a considerable risk."

– Alex Cunningham MP, Labour, Stockton North

Joanne Jones was caught after an officer noticed her smoking in the car and noted her registration details, later visiting her at her home in Linthorpe. She admitted the offence and was summonsed to court, where she received a £120 fine on Monday. When the law was first introduced, police forces said they were “unable” to enforce it. Only one driver was convicted in its first year - and that was in Northumberland.

Jones, whose address was listed as York Road in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, was fined at Teesside Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £85 costs, and £30 charges.

But the full circumstances of the incident were not made fully clear. The case was held under the behind-closed-doors Single Justice Procedure. The case is dealt with directly by a magistrate and legal advisor and is not heard in an open court. It only applies to cases that can be proved in absence, or when a guilty plea is provided. Defendants are absent, while the public and the press cannot attend.