FPA WELCOMES NEW LITTER FINES AND CALLS FOR A CODE OF PRACTICE FOR ISSUING FPNs

FPA is pleased to see fixed penalty notice fines for littering are to be increased from a maximum of £80 to £150 and that the owners of vehicles will be fined for any items littered from vehicles, eliminating the previous requirement to identify the specific individual who threw the litter.

The FPA was a member of the UK Litter Strategy Advisory Group so played a part in this development.

However with many local authorities using third party organisations to issue Fixed Penalty Notices we are concerned that these organisations operate without a national code of practice.  There is a urgent need to ensure that fines are issued fairly, so for example older people and the disabled are not unfairly targeted, while those more likely to offer resistance such as those leaving pubs and bars in the early hours, are able to litter without the prospect of being fined.

We are therefore calling for a code of practice to be developed and applied to all those who issue fixed penalty notices for littering and that the performance of organisations issuing fines be reported annually.  We also urge local authorities to apply the sums raised to the provision of litter education and to increasing the number of litter enforcement officers.  All local authorities must be seen to be issuing fines so that the threat of being fined is a real one wherever you are.

The FPA is working with its various member companies and other organisations to develop consistent on-pack messaging reminding the user not to litter and dispose of the item responsibly.

Clean Up Britain the campaign group championing cleaner, greener communities supports the FPA call.  John Read, Founder of Clean Up Britain said: “We support the call for a National Code of Practice for Litter Enforcement.  The problem at the moment is that very often the law (against littering) is not enforced at all by some Councils, or too often implemented against ‘soft targets’ in society.  The law lacks any credibility if not applied and, although we welcome the increase in fines, these will not make any difference whatsoever unless fines are actually imposed on people throughout the country.  It must be seen to be enforced.  At the moment, many people don’t know that littering is a criminal offence and, even if they do, they disregard it as the chances of being caught and fined are less than minuscule.  It is a law that has deteriorated into widespread disrepute – that is a dangerous situation for a democracy”.

Derek Robertson, President of the European Litter Prevention Association added his weight to the call for a code pf practice:  “Littering has reached an unacceptable scale across Europe with estimated costs for clean-up approach around £11billion per annum. We are all reminded on a daily basis of the challenge we face of eradicating litter and the behaviour that causes it. It is illegal and socially unacceptable to drop litter and it has a huge economic cost for local residents and authorities forced to clean up behind those who neglect their responsibilities.

To beat the scourge of litter we need a combination of actions – more education, including clear labelling of bins and packaging, for those who continue to dispose of litter irresponsibly; more facilities to allow everyone to do the right thing more easily; and more effective enforcement against those who drop litter in public spaces.

In relation to enforcement, the proposal from the FPA to regulate companies that issue Fixed Penalty Notices, through a code of practice or charter, is an interesting one which I am sure be supported by the public and local authorities across the UK.”