Enforcement - a tool needed to combat littering
As an environmental charity with a fifty-year track record of campaigning against litter in Scotland, we are constantly encouraging everyone to look around them, see the real and tangible impact of litter, and take the action necessary to tackle it. Being fined for the illegal behaviour of littering can be a powerful deterrent.
We have significant evidence that the litter problem is bad, and getting worse in Scotland. Our national surveys have shown a substantial and troubling deterioration in the cleanliness of our communities.
And this isn’t because of a lack of action.
We know that to reduce litter and littering behaviour we need to invest in the three main interventions outlined in Scotland’s Litter Strategy: information and education, infrastructure and enforcement.
In Scotland fines are mainly issued for littering by local authority enforcement officers and the police. By 2007 all 32 Scottish local authorities had adopted the powers to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for litter and flytipping. In 2014 , the level of Fixed Penalty Notice issued to those caught littering rose from £50 to £80. Almost 26,000 fines were issued for littering, flytipping and dog fouling in Scotland during 2015. There are no bonus systems used to reward enforcement officers for the number of tickets they issue by any local authorities.
There are more than 500 officers in Scotland, most of whom have attended our use of Fixed Penalty Notices training, who can issue fines as part of their duties. In 2016/17 we trained over 100 officers from ten different duty bodies, including eight local authorities, the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and Community Safety Glasgow in the use of the legislation.
The only local authority in Scotland to outsource the issuing of fines for littering is Scottish Borders Council.
It is clear that enforcement isn’t the answer alone. Each piece of litter on our streets and in our countryside, has been dropped not by the manufacturer, distributor or retailer of the product, but by the consumer of it. Making people aware of the wider impacts their behaviour has on our environment and our economy is important, as is making it easy for people to do the right thing by providing bins and infrastructure to collect recycling on the go.
But, we need to take a zero-tolerance approach, and use all the tools in our shed to facilitate change and reduce litter and littering behaviour.
15 May 2017