By listening to residents, we know how important it is to live and work in a community that is clean and free from litter and dog fouling. However, despite our efforts to maintain high cleanliness standards, individuals continue to drop litter or fail to clean up after their dogs.
On 1st August 2020, Bassetlaw District Council introduced proactive enforcement action to target this unacceptable behaviour in an effort to ensure our local environment meets an acceptable standard of cleanliness.
Fixed Penalty Notices
Authorised officers from District Enforcement will be issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) to anyone they observe, or have evidence to support, has committed an environmental crime such as dropping litter or failing to clean up after their dog. A FPN provides the opportunity to discharge any liability from being prosecuted through payment of the FPN. Choosing not to pay the FPN will result in the initiation of court proceedings with a maximum fine of £2,500 and potential conviction at a Magistrates Court.
A Fixed Penalty Notice could be issued if you:
- Drop litter – this includes chewing gum, fast food, fast food packaging, left over fruit (for example, apple cores and banana skins), drinks containers and sweet wrappers
- Drop cigarette ends – Cigarette waste is classified in the same way as any other form of litter and should be disposed of in a bin. Smokers have a responsibility to ensure their cigarette is completely extinguished before placing in a litter bin - this prevents any risk of fire within the litter bin. If you do not dispose of cigarette waste properly (e.g. in a litter bin), you can be issued with a FPN. If you do not have access to a litter bin, why not carry a portable disposable ashtray with you or create one by placing some soil or sand in a small tin? This will ensure you always have somewhere to dispose of cigarette ends responsibly
- Fail to comply with a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for dog control – failing to pick up after the dog you are walking not disposing of dog faeces in the correct way or not having the means available to pick up after your dog. It is not a valid excuse to say that you didn’t see the dog fouling or that you forgot to bring a bag with you.
Paying a Fixed Penalty Notice
A period of 14 days is given to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice.
Payment can be made online via www.noticepayments.co.uk/fpn/bassetlaw or by contacting District Enforcement on 0151 647 0387.
If your financial circumstances mean you are unable to pay within the 14 day period, please email the District Enforcement team immediately to discuss your circumstances. This will be reviewed and a payment extension may be granted. All correspondence details can be found on the Fixed Penalty Notice issued and on any other correspondence sent by District Enforcement. Payments will not be accepted by installment. However, you may be granted a payment extension.
If you choose not to pay the fixed penalty you will be prosecuted for the offence.
You can make a representation to District Enforcement in cases where an individual has an issue with the conduct with the Enforcement Officer, or would like to express their reasons as to why a Fixed Penalty Notice should not have been issued. This can be done online via www.noticepayments.co.uk/fpnrep/bassetlaw or by contacting District Enforcement on 0151 647 0387.
Appealing a Fixed Penalty Notice
There are no formal grounds of appeal against an FPN as it is an invitation to expel any liability to be summonsed to court for prosecution. While this is not an admission of guilt, by agreeing that an offence has been committed and by paying the FPN, no further action will be undertaken by the council. Dealing with it in this manner saves time for everyone (including the offender) in prosecuting cases at court, and associated costs of any fine imposed by the court.
If you choose to pick up the litter or dog faeces after an enforcement officer has approached you, an FPN will still be issued as the offence has already been committed. The littering or dog fouling offence relates to the dropping of litter or failure to clean up after the dog and then walking away from this once it has occurred. Whether or not you volunteer to pick up your litter or clean up after the dog afterwards, the offence has been committed and a fixed penalty notice will be issued.
If you do not agree that you committed the offence for which you received the FPN, the matter will be dealt with through formal prosecution through the Magistrate court. 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. This means that allowing the offence to progress to formal court action, this becomes the mechanism for those wishing to appeal an FPN.
District Enforcement Officers
The company, District Enforcement provides experienced and professional enforcement officers who work under the direction and on behalf of Bassetlaw District Council. Their officers will patrol any area of land that is open to public access including town centres, villages, parks and other environmental hotspots.
The Environmental Crime Officers are specialists in their field, and Bassetlaw District Council has given clear and defined delegated powers, with officers following current legislative guidelines and the local authority’s enforcement policy.
All officers operating within Bassetlaw have been screened and vetted by DBS in compliance with British Standard 7858:2012. Officers have received intensive introductory training and will continue to receive ongoing professional development to ensure high standards required by the council are met. Officers will be equipped with body worn cameras which ensures footage of every interaction between officers and members of the public are recorded. District Officers are not remunerated against the number of Fixed Penalty Notices they issue. They are paid an hourly rate and do not receive any bonuses.
Any complaints against the officers should be made to District Enforcement and will be handled in line with established procedures. Please be aware that making a complaint will be dealt with separately to the issued FPN and, as an offence is alleged, you remain liable to prosecution unless you choose to pay the FPN within the timescale specified.
Frequently Asked Questions of District Enforcement
Question. Where do District Environmental Crime Officers powers and authority come from?
Answer. They are delegated from the local authorities we work for with clearly defined parameters of authority. Our officers will enforce all legislation in accordance to the law and in line with the enforcement policy of the local authority.
Question. Who designates what legislation District Environmental Crime Officers enforce?
Answer. This is set out in either a contract or service level agreement with each council and is signed off by both parties prior to any patrol deployment.
Question. Where can District Environmental Crime Officers patrol?
Answer. Officers are tasked to visit areas of highest demand and will patrol wherever there is evidence of littering. It has been shown that Town Centres are hotspot areas and cigarette butts are the most common litter issue. District Enforcement Officers will focus on the enforcement of offences on public land but are legally entitled to visit and enforce on private land to which the public have access (e.g. outside supermarkets). Should a private land owner object to enforcement activity on their land, District Enforcement Officers will cease patrolling and issuing FPNs in this area with immediate effect. Private land owners can raise any concerns immediately to the Council.
Question. Are all District Environmental Crime Officers vetted?
Answer. Yes. All our officers are screened and vetted by DBS in compliance with British Standard 7858:2012.
Question. Are District Environmental Crime Officers remunerated against the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) they issue?
Answer. No. All of our Officers are paid an hourly rate and do not receive bonuses.
Question. Do District Environmental Crime Officers accept payment on the spot?
Answer: No. Officers will not take or accept payments on the spot. The technology Officers use does not have the capability to take payment. All Fixed Penalty Notices will be sent through the post.
Question. Are there any exemptions in relation to whom the District Environmental Crime Officers can issue an FPN to?
Answer. Yes. These exemptions are determined by the enforcement policy of the local authority and normally include members of the public with proven physical and mental disabilities. Additionally, some local authorities include additional exemptions such as children and elderly members of the community.
Question: Do District Environmental Crime Officers carry identification?
Answer: All Officers carry Identification Cards which are visible and worn round the neck on a lanyard. When challenging a member of the public, standard operating procedure is to show the ID card, explain the offence and state that a body worn camera is being used during the interaction. Footage from the body worn camera is available for review by the Council.
Question. Why do Environmental Crime Officers wear Body Worn Cameras and when are they operated?
Answer. These are used to protect the public and our Officers from being subject to spurious complaints or intimidation by offenders seeking to avoid paying the penalty issued. The cameras are only switched on at the point the Officer introduces him/herself to the offender and it is explained why the camera is in operation. The camera is turned on during the conversation only, this can then either be served as evidence or unused material dependent upon the prosecution policy of the local authority.
Question. How can the public have confidence that District’s Environmental Crime Officers always act responsibly?
Answer. Our Environmental Crime Officers are specialists in their field. They receive intensive introductory training and ongoing professional development to maintain the high standards required by the local authorities they serve. There is Body Worn Camera footage of every interaction between our Officers and members of the public. Any complaints against our Officers can be made to local authorities and are handled in line with established procedures.
Question. What are Fixed Penalty Notices?
Answer. Since the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 became law, new measures have been introduced that enable local authorities to issue an FPN to anyone they have reason to believe committed an environmental crime that damages the street scene. An FPN gives an alleged offender the opportunity of discharging their liability from being prosecuted by paying the FPN. If an offender is prosecuted, the fine for littering can be up to a maximum of £2,500 and may be faced with a conviction.
Question. How much is a Fixed Penalty Notice?
- £100 for Littering
- £100 for PSPO related offences (e.g. Dog Fouling)
Question. Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice?
Answer. There are no formal grounds of appeal against an FPN. This is because an FPN 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 an FPN is likely to be substantially lower than any fine imposed by the courts. For example, the maximum fine which can be imposed by the courts for littering is £2,500.
Question. I have limited funds and I will not be able to pay within the 14 days what can I do?
Answer. You can write to the District Enforcement team to explain your circumstances, this will be reviewed and you may be granted a time extension to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice. All the correspondence details will be on the FPN issued and all correspondence sent by the local authority.
Question. But I don’t agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a Fixed Penalty Notice?
Answer. You can make a representation to District Enforcement in cases whereby an individual has an issue with the conduct of the Enforcement Officer, or you would like to express the reasons as to why an FPN should not have been issued. This can be done online via www.noticepayments.co.uk/fpnrep/bassetlaw or by contacting District Enforcement on 0151 647 0387.
If you do not agree that you committed the offence for which you received the Fixed Penalty Notice, 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.
Question. I don’t see why I should pay if there are no signs about littering or dog fouling in the area?
Answer. The local authority 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 FPNs in order to drive the message home to those who spoil our towns and cities by carelessly discarding their rubbish.
As with signage, it is not feasible for the council to put litter bins in every street, road and highway in the district, 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, major shopping areas and Parks and open spaces. Dog poo, once bagged can be placed in any litter bin in the district. 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.
Question. I didn’t know that this was an offense, has the Council informed the public?
Answer. Bassetlaw District Council has run a number of campaigns over recent years targeting littering and dog fouling. The current campaign began with a multi-media launch to highlight litter enforcement including press releases, social media information and articles in the council’s e-newsletter and local media.
Question. What happens if I refuse to pay the Fixed Penalty Notice?
Answer. You will be prosecuted for the offence.
Question. I received a Fixed Penalty Notice for dropping a cigarette butt, surely that can’t be considered littering?
Answer. 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.
Question. But cigarette stubs aren’t really waste as they can’t be placed in litter bins because they will catch fire?
Answer. 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. Many of the Council's litter bins have dedicated sections for cigarette ends. However, care should be taken to avoid any risk of fire and in particular cigarette ends should be completely extinguished before the stub is thrown into the bin. There is also no reason why smokers cannot carry portable ‘butt bins’ with them or create their own by placing some soil or sand in a small tin.
Question. But I wasn’t given a warning, surely that is not fair?
Answer. Our education campaign in terms of the litter problem has been continual in recent years. On top of this, organisations like Keep Britain Tidy do 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.
Question. Who has the final say in whether an individual is prosecuted?
Answer. The decision always lies with the local authority.
- There will be no warnings, you will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice for dropping litter, cigarette ends or chewing gum. Also for not cleaning up after your dog.
- That you can use bins without ashtrays. Extinguish the cigarette first, then place it in the bin.
- No bin doesn't doesn't mean no FPN - not having a bin to hand is not an excuse for littering.
- Placing a cigarette end down a drain is still an offence which will result in a Fixed Penalty Notice.
- The offence is complete once the item is deposited and the person walks away.
- Failing to give your name and address is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1990 Section 88 (8B).
Last Updated on Tuesday, August 4, 2020