On-the-spot fines for littering and fly-tipping to increase under DEFRA plans to tackle environmental crimes
On-the-spot fines for litter, graffiti and fly tipping are set to rise because the government wants local councils to take a ‘tougher approach’ with anti-social behaviour.
Fixed penalty notices in some instances could more than double as ministers look for ways to crack down on environmental crimes that blight communities.
Currently, the maximum on-site penalty for anyone caught either littering or daubing graffiti is £150. But this could leap to £500 under Rishi Sunak’s new action plan.
Crimes like littering and fly-tipping have been described as ‘opportunistic’ by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which says the mess left behind damages wildlife, creates eyesores and ruins everyone’s enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Increasing the upper limits for a fine, suggests environment minister Rebecca Pow, could help deter people from harming public spaces and will equip councils with everything they need to ‘strengthen their arm’.
It is also hoped hitting people harder in their pocket might help deter others from offending.
She said: “We’re taking action right across government to crack down on anti-social behaviour and ensure waste criminals face justice – but it’s vital that communities have the tools they need to address the problem as well.”
More money for enforcement officers
Alongside increasing the maximum limits for fixed penalty notices, the government is also consulting on whether to ringfence the cash generated by on-the-spot litter and fly-tipping fines in order to only spend it on clean up work and more enforcement officers.
Directly spending the money criminals pay in fines, says the government, would mean their cash goes directly towards repairing the damage they've caused and into preventing similar incidents happening again.
The consultation period will aim to understand where money from litter fines is currently spent by local authorities – and what the impact might be of restricting that cash to set list of things councils could use it for that relate to enforcement and clean-up work.
However, current guidance makes it clear that no enforcement activity should be treated as a way to actually raise money and that enforcement powers must be used with ‘a high degree of professionalism’.
More than a million incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by councils between 2021 and 2022 and 91,000 fines were issued - alongside other enforcement actions.
Under the new plans, local authorities will have the freedom to set the rates that offenders should pay – within the new limits being proposed.