Litter legislation working

In the first full calendar year since local authorities were granted powers to issue spot fines for littering, councils have used them to good effect according to Government.

Authorities are issuing more fixed penalty notices as they get used to the tool and the public seems prepared to pay up.

The total number of FPNs issued for litter rose by 32% in 2006/2007, with over 43,600 issued across England.

Minister for Local Environment Quality Jonathan Shaw said: “Ask communities what concerns them most about the area they live in and litter is near the top of list. Residents are right to expect their council to take a tough stance.

“I’m encouraged to see that more local authorities are using the powers Government has provided to penalise people who are ruining our streets with thoughtless offences like littering.

“But fixed penalty notices are only effective if local authorities take steps to ensure that they are paid – and, if they’re not, that effective action is taken at local level. I’m pleased to see that this has followed through in the results with an increase in payment rates, although there is still more to do.”

The statistics record FPNs issued for a range of environmental offences that include noise, graffiti, abandoned vehicles and dog fouling.

Results show that 3,675 FPNs were issued for dog fouling, with an 83.4% payment rate achieved overall.

They show that overall the total number of FPNs issued for nuisance offences across the whole of England has risen by 42% payment rate up to 72.4% from 57% in 2005/6.

“This is the first full year that we’ve had this data since we expanded the range of these powers – following calls from local authorities,” said Mr Shaw.

“Whilst the information is encouraging there is some way to go if authorities are to make best use of these powers. By stepping up the payment rate they will be able to crackdown on the full range of nuisance offences that include noise, fly-posting, graffiti and dog fouling.

“Fixed penalty notices are just one weapon that local authorities can use in the drive to reduce costly street cleansing. Clearly communities must work together and learn from each other if they are to achieve even better results in the future.”

Ian Clayton, deputy chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy said: “It’s good to see that more fines have been issued and most importantly that more are being paid. Our research has shown that the threat of a fine will encourage people not to litter, but people need to believe that they are going to get caught.

“Fining is a crucial tool in achieving clean streets especially when coupled with campaigning and education.”

The statistics do not show if the increase in fines has led to a reduction in littering offences.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie