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Litter Fine Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice?
There are no formal grounds of appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because a Fixed Penalty Notice is an invitation for you to effectively 'buy off' your liability to prosecution. This means that while this is not an admission of guilt, you agree that an offence has been committed and that by paying the sum of money specified no further action will be undertaken by the council. This method of dealing with offences not only saves the time involved for everyone (including the offender) in prosecuting cases at court, but the cost associated with a Fixed Penalty Notice is likely to be substantially lower than any fine imposed by the courts. For example the maximum penalty which can be imposed by the courts for littering is £2,500.

But I don't agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a Fixed Penalty Notice?
If you do not agree that you committed the offence for which you received the Fixed Penalty Notice then the matter will be dealt with through formal prosecution via the courts. It will then be up to the court, on receiving evidence, to determine whether or not an offence was committed and therefore whether or not any penalty should be imposed. Effectively this means that the formal court route becomes the mechanism for those wishing to appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice. It should be noted that the financial penalty imposed by the courts can be significantly more than that which is imposed through a Fixed Penalty Notice.

I don't see why I should pay if there are no signs about littering in the area where I dropped it?
The council is not required to place signs in every street, road, highway, park or open space to tell people not to litter or to inform them that litter patrols are operating in the area. Litter legislation has been in force for many years and littering in many parts of the UK is at such levels that councils across the country are now actively issuing Fixed Penalty Notices in order to drive the message home to those who spoil our towns and cities by carelessly discarding their rubbish.

Why should I pay a Fixed Penalty Notice when there were no litter bins nearby at the time?
As with signage it is not feasible for the council to put litter bins in every street, road and highway in the city, though of course every effort is made to place bins where they are most needed and where there are the greatest levels of pedestrian footfall, such as in town centres and major shopping areas. Where bins are not available then it is up to everyone to act responsibly and make arrangements to either take their litter home or carry it until a litter bin is available.

I received a Fixed Penalty Notice for stubbing out a cigarette, surely that can't be considered littering?
Wrong. Litter includes not only cigarette butts but also chewing gum. In many ways these items are more of a nuisance and more expensive to clean up than other items of rubbish.

But cigarette stubs aren't really waste as they can't be placed in litter bins because they will catch fire?
Smokers are responsible for ensuring that they completely extinguish their cigarettes before placing them in the bin. Cigarette waste is the same as any other waste in terms of litter laws and you can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice for not disposing of cigarette stubs properly. Obviously care should be taken to avoid any risk of fire and in particular cigarette ends should be completely extinguished on the stubbing plates provided on many litterbins before the stub is thrown into the bin. There is also no reason why smokers (who are well aware that their habit means that they will be faced with disposing of their cigarette waste) cannot carry portable 'butt bins' with them or create their own by placing some soil or sand in a small tin.

What if the I don't notice the dog doing its business?
That is not a reasonable excuse; owners are expected to be in control of their dogs, even if they let them roam freely in an area.

There aren't enough dog bins around, so how can I be expected to clear up?
The Council has decided it wants to site dog-waste bins near parks and other open spaces where people exercise their dogs. We want to avoid putting bins in residential areas as they can cause complaint from people if bins are sited too near to residential properties. If dogs foul in residential areas we would expect people to bag the faeces and take it home where it can be put in the normal household wheelie bin or dustbin. The absence of dog-waste bins is not a reasonable defence against the offence of failing to clear up after your dog. Bagged dog faeces can be disposed of in Council dog or litterbins, so there is usually a bin within a reasonable walking distance. The absence of any bins is not an excuse in law and does not provide a defence to the offence. We would prefer if people trained their dogs to defecate in their garden, rather than in a public area.

What if someone else, a relative or friend, takes the dog out and it fouls?
From the time that person takes the dog out, they are in charge of that dog, and would be responsible for clearing up.

What if a child takes the dog for a walk and it fouls?
A child can be shown how to clear up dog foul safely and cleanly, and when they are in charge of the dog, they would be responsible for clearing up after the dog. In the case where a child does not clear up, the action will depend on his/her age;

  • A child under fourteen will not be considered in charge of the dog, instead the offence will be deemed to have been caused by the habitual owner who has failed to ensure that a responsible person is in charge of the dog;
  • A young person of fourteen to sixteen will be in charge, but in the first instance we will issue a warning in writing. Otherwise they will be treated in the same way as an adult.
  • A young person of 17 will be treated in exactly the same way as an adult.

But I wasn't given a warning, surely that is not fair?
Our education campaign in terms of the litter problem has been continual in recent years. Thousands of pounds of your money has been spent on publicity involving posters, advertising and articles in the press, on the radio and TV. We have also run street theatres with actors dressed up as litter to emphasise the anti-littering message. On top of this, organisations like Keep Britain Tidy does an excellent job in helping us get the anti-littering message across. Of course all the publicity in the world is of no use whatsoever if the message is being ignored. So we must take our enforcement duties seriously as well and back up what is a serious and important message with real action. This is the aim of our enforcement patrols which seek to target those who choose to ignore the littering laws which the vast majority abide by.

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