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I put the case for making littering a civil offence

Extract from  Clean Highways submission to Commons inquiry into litter – Oct 2014

One of the positive developments in combating litter in recent years has been the use by councils of contractors to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices. These schemes can be self-funding. In my opinion councils should not be denigrated if they can achieve a surplus.

One point that concerns me is that councils are reluctant to issue FPNs  (Fixed Penalty Notices) to juveniles because of the extra requirement to comply with the Children’s’ Act 2004. Also, in the event of non-payment Magistrates are rightly reluctant to give the young person a criminal record for dropping a minor item of litter. This has rendered the process ineffectual in the case of one of the main groups of offenders.

For this reason I believe consideration should be given to making the offence of dropping litter a civil one to be dealt with in the same way as a parking offence. The important thing is not the civil or criminal nature of the offence but the likelihood of a perpetrator being caught or deterred. Simplifying the process may have a positive benefit in this regard.

The C &LG Select Committee get it wrong

Please refer to paragraphs 23 and 24 of Government’s Response to C &LG Select Committee report on litter

(Committee’s) Recommendations 11 and 12- Although littering is a criminal offence, it is often acted against under civil powers by the use of fixed penalty notices. (WRONG) …… We see a case for increasing the maximum FPN level both to encourage local authorities to make greater use of FPNs and to provide additional resources to remove litter. (GOOD POINT).

In response the Government said  in para 23-  It is important to be clear that fixed penalty notices (FPNs) are not served under civil powers: they are a criminal penalty, which may be offered in lieu of prosecution.



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