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People who carelessly discard litter in a public open place are committing a criminal offence. In cases of littering the normal course of action will be to offer a notice of opportunity to pay a fixed penalty of £150. Providing the offender is cooperative.

The offence, as amended in 2005 by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, applies to all places that are:

  • open to the air, including private open land,
  • and land covered by water.

Litter includes:

  • paper,
  • cans,
  • bottles,
  • food and drink containers,
  • chewing gum,
  • plastic,
  • leftover food,
  • cigarette and cigar ends,
  • flyers or
  • large items such as bags of rubbish.

If a person chooses to return to the litter and pick it up following the intervention of an officer, a Fixed Penalty Notice may still be issued. Such action would be recorded by the officer and noted in the event of a subsequent prosecution.

It is also an offence to throw litter from a vehicle. If the registration number is taken the registered keeper's identity can be obtained from the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency by the police or the local authority. Witnesses should note whether the driver or passenger threw the litter and take a good description of the vehicle and offender in case it is needed in evidence.

Littering offences can be reported to the local authority and they will decide whether to take further action.

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