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Fixed Penalty Notice FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Since the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 became law, measures have been introduced, enabling local authorities to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to anyone committing an environmental crime that damages the street scene. Swale Borough Council has agreed set levels of Fixed Penalty Notices to cover the entire borough. Swale Borough Council are providing a uniformed presence of Environmental Enforcement Officers across the Borough.

The officers have been issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s) for the offences of dropping litter which will include items such as chewing gum, cigarette butts and fast food and other forms of litter such as wrapping. They will also issue Fixed penalties for failing to pick up after your dog or not disposing of the dog litter in the correct way.

Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice? 

There are no formal grounds of appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because a Fixed Penalty Notice is an invitation for you to effectively discharge your liability to prosecution. In essence this means that if you agree that an offence has been committed by you then by paying the sum of money specified no further action in the form of prosecution for the offence can be undertaken by the council.

This method of dealing with offences not only saves the time involved in prosecuting cases at court, but the cost associated with a Fixed Penalty Notice is likely to be substantially lower than any fine that can be imposed by the courts.

But I don’t agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a Fixed Penalty Notice?

If you do not agree that you committed the offence then 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.

I didn’t know that this was an offence, has the Council informed the public? 

Swale Borough Council has run a number of campaigns over recent years targeting littering and dog fouling. These campaigns are ongoing. They have included projects in schools, and handing out thousands of free pocket ash trays to smokers. We also advertise the initiative via social media, in the press, and on signs throughout the borough.

I don’t see why I should pay if there are no signs about littering or dog fouling in the area? 

The council is not required to place signs in any street, road, highway or open park space to inform people not to litter or to inform them that litter patrols are operating in the area. However, Swale Borough Council has placed signs in key areas around the borough advising that anyone dropping litter will be issued with a Fixed Penalty. Litter legislation has been in force many years and littering in many parts of the UK is at such levels that Councils right across the country are now actively issuing FPN’s to people who inappropriately discard their rubbish.

Why should I pay a Fixed Penalty Notice when there were no litter or dog bins nearby at the time?  

As with signage it is not feasible for the council to put litter bins in every street, road and highway in the borough though of course every effort is made to place bins where they are most needed such as in town centres and parks and open spaces. We are keen to make our borough cleaner, greener and safer. It costs thousands of pounds to remove litter and this time and resources could be better used for other services.

I received a Fixed Penalty Notice for dropping a cigarette butt, surely that can’t be considered littering?  

Litter includes not only cigarette butts and associated materials but chewing gum also. In many ways these items are more of a nuisance and more expensive to clean up than other items of rubbish. Campaigns have been run in Swale to advise smokers to discard of their cigarette butts appropriately. These have included handing out thousands of free pocket ash trays. Cigarette stubs cannot be placed in litter bins because they will catch fire to them.

What else should I do?  

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 an FPN for not disposing of cigarette stubs properly.
Care should be taken to avoid any risk of fire and in particular cigarette ends should be completely extinguished on the stubbing plates provided on many litter bins before the stub is thrown into the bin. There is also no reason why a smoker cannot carry a portable “pocket ash tray” with them.

I wasn’t given a warning, surely that is not fair?  

Our education campaigns have been continual in recent years. Thousands of pounds of public money has been spent on publicity involving signs, advertising, articles in the press, social media, and Swale Borough Councils residents magazine. The aim of our enforcement patrols is to target those who choose to ignore the littering laws which the rest of us abide by.

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

It is important to realise that the littering offence relates to the dropping of litter and walking away once you have dropped it. So, whether or not you volunteer to pick up your litter afterwards you have committed an offence and will be issued with an FPN.

Where do the Enforcement Officers patrol?  

The Officers are tasked to 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. However, the officers will target any part of the borough where littering is considered to be an issue, which includes villages and parks.

If I put it down a drain is that an offence?   

Placing a cigarette end down a drain or in a stream is still an offence which will result in the issue of an FPN.

How much is the FPN?

You'll receive a fine of £150 for:

At present there are is no reduced price for paying early. If you fail to pay within the prescribed time and the matter goes to court then you could incur more costs.

What happens if I refuse to pay the fixed penalty notice? 

You will be prosecuted for the offence.

Can I complain about the Enforcement Officers behaviour?  

If you feel that any of our officer’s behaviour was unacceptable, please write to the address provided on your FPN and your complaint will be investigated. You should be aware that making a complaint is treated separately to the issue of the FPN and as an offence is still alleged you remain liable to prosecution unless you choose to pay the FPN within the time specified.

Can I pay by instalments?  

We do not accept payments by instalments. However, if there are extenuating circumstances we may extend the time period by which you can pay in full.

Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice?

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