Under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 Act it is an offence to throw down, drop or otherwise deposit, and then leave, litter.
The offence, applies to all places that are open to the air, including private land and land covered by water.
A covered place which is open to the air on at least one side and to which the public have access is also subject to this section.
A person found guilty of the litter offence may be fined up to level 4 on the standard scale (currently £2,500) in a magistrates’ court.
Section 88 allows an “authorised officer” of a “litter authority” to issue “fixed penalty notices” as an alternative to prosecution.
Litter includes cigarette ends and discarded chewing gum etc
Large items including a single plastic sack of rubbish will usually fall outside the scope of section 87 and should be dealt with as fly tipping.
The term ‘litter authority’ includes any principal litter authority other than a county council, except where the county council has been so-designated by the Secretary of State, the Broads Authority, parish and community councils and National Park Authorities. are also deemed to be litter authorities.
Litter authorities can now authorise ‘any person’ (or the employee of any such person) to issue fixed penalty notices.
PCSOs have the power to issue section 88 notices under the Police Reform Act 2002
Where a person is given a fixed penalty notice no proceedings may be taken within 14 days of the notice being served, and the person cannot be convicted of the offence if payment of the fixed penalty is made within this time period.
A principal litter authority can specify the level of fixed penalty within a specified range that will apply in its area. If the local authority chooses not to set its own level, a standard default amount of £75 applies.
A litter authority may offer a discount for early payment of a fixed penalty notice.
An authorised officer can require a person to whom he proposes to give a fixed penalty notice to give him his or her name and address. It is an
offence to fail to provide these details, or to give a false or inaccurate name or address.
These notes are based on DEFRA’s Guidance on Part 4 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 starting on page 5