Post-Retirement Knotweed Problems

In my 40 years on the force I came across a huge variety of cases, however there were a few corners of the legal system that I never had the need to inform myself on. Despite what many civvies may think, it’s not a policeman’s job to know every nook and cranny of the law. Over the years you might become familiar with certain aspects of the legal system, and there are, of course, plenty pieces of legislation that you are expected to know back to front, but it wasn’t until my retirement that I became familiar with the implications involved with Japanese knotweed law.

I’d never been much of a gardener during my working life. I’d inherited my home from my Mother when she had passed away in the 90s and I’d spent the following 30 years or so running the place into the ground. It had been a handsome place when I’d first taken it on, but I’d not been able to keep on top of maintaining it as well as work 50-hour weeks and its value had probably dropped as a result. I took early retirement partly because I wanted to put the place to rights before selling it up and knew that I would never have the time whilst I was still working.

About a fortnight into my retirement and my new life of renovation I received a notice on my door which I recognised instantly. It was a Community Order Notice that was ordering me to remove a plant in my back garden or risk the consequences: a big fine, or potentially jail time. At first I thought that a mistake must have been made, and then I thought that this would be just the kind of prank that my old colleagues would pay me in my first few weeks off. But this seemed like an odd joke if that was the case.

I decided to call up the station just to check that this wasn’t an elaborate hoax. My suspicious were unfounded, however the response that I got at the other end of the line was still that of laughter. ‘You need to get your knotweed in order mate!’ said the duty officer and suddenly I had a new challenge on my hands.

On first inspection the garden was in the same state that it had always been: resembling a post-apocalyptic suburbia that had been swallowed by vegetation. I’d never paid much attention to what was growing in there, the mass of leaves was just another job that I would need to get round to doing.

As I picked my way through the remnants of what used to be path, I saw the offending plant that had initiated the Community Notice. Right at the back of the garden, partially shielded from view by a forlorn looking shed that I’d honestly forgotten about, I saw proud bamboo-like shoots protruding above the mouldering wood. A quick Google-comparison confirmed this to be the offending plant and the prognosis did not look good.

I wasn’t sure how knotweed had found its way onto my land, but it had clearly done so and thrived as a result of being left to its own devices. After reading about the plant’s regenerative properties I decided to not attempt removing it myself and promptly called a professional.

Who said retirement was a walk in the park?