Litter bugs stung by costly court fines

Six law breakers who were caught dropping litter on the street have been fined a total of £5004 – or £834 each.

The huge fines were issued at Brighton Magistrates Court after the offenders failed to pay the initial £75 fixed penalty notice and then didn’t attend court, despite being summoned.

The offences took place on Junction Road and Boundary Road, Portslade, and Western Road, Brighton.

It is against the law for people to:

•    drop or throw away litter, including cigarette butts
•    fly-tip or fly-post
•    not pick up their dog's mess if they foul in public space

Anyone caught is given an on-the-spot fine between £75 and £300, depending on the type of offence.

If the fine isn’t paid within 28 days, the case goes to court where the offender will face a higher fine plus costs.

In this case, each of the six defendants didn’t pay within the time or bother to turn up to court. They were fined £440, told to pay £350 costs plus a £44 victim surcharge, totalling £834 each. 

Cllr Gill Mitchell, chair of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “We’re determined to stamp out littering and these convictions show we take this type of crime very seriously. 

She added: “We will not sit back and watch our beautiful city become dirty because someone can’t be bothered to find a bin for their cigarette butt or rubbish, or clean up after their dog.

“Nor will we stand aside and let people fly-tipping their unwanted items beside a communal bin, expecting the council to take them away at the expense of other council tax payers.

“We will continue to gather evidence and fine offenders. If they fail or refuse to pay, we will take them to court where they will be handed much bigger fines and a criminal prosecution, as these offenders have found out.”

Offenders who don’t pay the fine

By law, anyone caught littering must give their full name and address to the council’s enforcement officers who then verify the person using electronic ID verification systems. 

Failure to give the correct name and address can lead to a £1,000 fine and a criminal conviction.

If the offender then fails to pay the fixed penalty notice, the case progresses to the local Magistrates Court with the maximum penalty of £2,500. 

As littering is a criminal offence and not a civil offence, anyone found guilty will not only face a bigger fine than the original £75, they will also have a criminal conviction against their name.