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FAQs Fixed Penalty Notices

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How much is a fixed penalty notice?

Fixed Penalty Notice amounts vary depending on the type of offence committed. Amounts maybe reduced for early payments.

For a full list of amounts and reduced amounts, including deadlines for early payments, see Fixed Penalty Notice

I don't agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a fixed penalty notice. Can I refuse to pay it?

The penalty notice has been issued to give you an opportunity to avoid prosecution in the Magistrates Court. If you do not take up this opportunity then you could be summonsed to appear in Court. If you are found guilty of the offence then the Magistrates Court could give you a higher penalty plus you may need to pay additional costs.

Shouldn't there be signs up to warn me about the legislation?

We regularly run advertising campaigns, and place signage in areas of high footfall, to remind people of their responsibilities. If warning signs are not present, this does not excuse someone from acting in an anti-social manner. If you need to look around for a warning sign before dropping litter etc. then you probably already know that the action is illegal.

Why should I pay a fine when there were no bins nearby at the time?

Dropping litter is a criminal offence under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. There are is no statutory defence in relation to there not being any nearby litter bins. The same applies to the disposal of bagged 'dog waste'.

Where bins are not available, 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 dropping one harmless cigarette butt, surely something so small cannot be considered litter?

The legal definition of the littering offence does not include any limitations on the size of the litter. The offence relates to the action of dropping litter and not the size of the object. Therefore a cigarette butt can be classed as litter and so can items such as chewing gum and sweet wrappers.

Cigarette butts are biodegradable, right?

The fact that an item may be biodegradable is irrelevant as it does not immediately disappear once it has been dropped. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable as they are made from cellulose acetate which takes many years to degrade.

Cigarette butts aren't really waste and they can't be placed in litter bins because they will cause fires?

Cigarette butts have little purpose other than to get rid of as waste. In the street environment, smokers can get rid of their butts in a street litter bin. Care should be taken to make sure that the cigarette has been completely put out to avoid causing a fire by igniting the contents of the bin.

My Council Tax pays for the street cleaning service so what's the problem with you picking up my cigarette butts?

The Council Tax revenue pays for a wide range of essential services including such things as the Police, Fire and Rescue, road maintenance and social services. Spending money on cleaning up your litter means that less can be spent on the essential services.

If I pick up the litter after an officer has approached me, do I still receive a fine?

Offering to pick up the litter is not a legal defence to committing the offence. You should not have acted in an anti-social manner by dropping the litter. If you are caught by an enforcement officer then you should expect to receive a fine.

I have limited funds and will not be able to pay in time, what can I do?

The penalty notice has been issued as an opportunity to avoid prosecution in Magistrates Court. If you are unable to pay the penalty in the prescribed period then you could be summonsed to Court.

If the matter does result in legal action, and you are found guilty, then your financial means will be taken into consideration by the Magistrates Court. They will then assess the level of the fine and agree to a time limit for making payment of the fine and any related costs.

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