Home Office | Reform of anti-social behaviour powers – Litter and rubbish

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Reform of anti-social behaviour powers  – Litter and rubbish 

What is the issue? 

Respondents in the Crime Survey for England and Wales consistently identify litter and rubbish lying around as a major concern in their area. Persistent littering can be an eyesore or at its worst, be considered a health hazard. It is certainly anti-social and this is why councils take the issue seriously across the country.

Two specific powers to deal with littering are being repealed by this legislation (the litter clearing notice and street litter clearing notice) but their replacements will allow the police, councils and, in some cases, social landlords to design more effective solutions to the problems being encountered locally. In addition, many of the other interventions used currently, such as fines, will remain available.

Informal intervention 

There is no excuse for littering in a public space. Parks, town centres and public highways are there for the access and enjoyment of all and this should not be ruined by selfish individuals who decide to ignore the law.

In the first instance, council officers and the police will normally approach an individual who has dropped litter and give them the opportunity to pick it up and dispose of it properly. However, they will continue to have access to a number of other interventions for one off incidences of littering such as issuing FPNs (fixed penalty notices) under section 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Where the accumulation of litter or rubbish becomes an issue – for instance, in an individual’s garden – a number of factors should be considered. Most councils will approach the home owner in the case of litter accumulation and discuss the impact their behaviour is having on those nearby. In many cases, this will prove sufficient to deal with the issue but will also allow the council to ascertain whether there are any other issues involved, such as a mental health needs. Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, mediation and warning letters can also be effective in some circumstances, helping local agencies establish a lasting solution to a community issue.

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