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Litter and Dog Fouling Fixed Penalty Notices

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Your Questions Answered...


When did the new legislation come into force?

The new legislation to enforce the campaign was adopted by the Council on 21 July 2003. It makes it an offence for dog owners or those in charge of dogs not to clean up after their dog has fouled on all land and open spaces to which the public has access including roads, pavement school playing fields, canal towpaths, footpaths parks and other areas. Private gardens, agricultural land and moors or heath are not included in the powers. It is an offence to drop litter on any land to which the public has access. Anyone caught committing an offence will be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £80 for either offence.

Why has the campaign been enforced?

Litter and dog fouling fall within the top five complaints made to the Council by residents of the Borough.

Who will enforce the new legislation?

Non uniformed officers will carry out enforcement in relation to dog fouling and in addition, will also enforce in respect of some littering offences. They will obtain evidence relating to breaches of the legislation, which will result in the issue of Fixed Penalty Notices of £80, which will lead to a potential fine of £1,000 for a second dog fouling offence and £2,500 for a second litter offence or a failure to pay the Penalty Notice.

Will enforcement occur at anytime?

Yes. Non uniformed officers can operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, acting on information received to make sure they are in the right place at the right time.

What happens if the owner refuses to give their details to the Enforcement Officer?

Experience shows that this happens in very few cases, however, officers may call for Police assistance or may note car registration details etc to obtain the necessary details of the offender.

There are many strategies that can be employed. How do the "on the spot fines" work?

They are not on the spot fines in that you are required to pay the fine then and there, at the time you are stopped by non uniformed officers. The Council will issue a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80 if an offence is witnessed by a non uniformed officer. The person who receives the Notice can avoid Court action by paying the fine within fourteen days. If the fine is not paid, or paid late, then action in the Magistrates Court will follow. Offenders are not expected to hand money to the  non uniformed officers at the time the offence is committed.

What about someone who habitually offends, even though they are given Penalty Notices?

If someone is not changing their ways, perhaps because they can easily afford the £80 penalty, then we will be looking at prosecuting them on a second occasion within a twelve month period. The maximum fine in Court is £1,000 for dog fouling and £2,500 for litter and the offender will also be liable for the Council's costs.

What if the owner doesn't notice the dog doing its business?

That is not a reasonable excuse; owners are expected to be in control of their dogs, even if they let them roam freely in an area.

There aren't enough dog bins around, so how can owners be expected to clear up?

The Council has decided it wants to site dog-waste bins near parks and other open spaces where people exercise their dogs. We want to avoid putting bins in residential areas as they can cause complaint from people if bins are sited too near to residential properties. If dogs foul in residential areas we would expect people to bag the faeces and take it home where it can be put in the normal household wheelie bin or dustbin. The absence of dog-waste bins is not a reasonable defence against the offence of failing to clear up after your dog. Bagged dog faeces can be disposed of in Council dog or litterbins, so there is usually a bin within a reasonable walking distance. The absence of any bins is not an excuse in law and does not provide a defence to the offence. We would prefer if people trained their dogs to defecate in their garden, rather than in a public area.

What if someone else, a relative or friend, takes the dog out and it fouls?

From the time that person takes the dog out, they are in charge of that dog, and would be responsible for clearing up.

What if a child takes the dog for a walk and it fouls?

A child can be shown how to clear up dog foul safely and cleanly, and when they are in charge of the dog, they would be responsible for clearing up after the dog. In the case where a child does not clear up, the action will depend on his/her age;

  • A child under fourteen will not be considered in charge of the dog, instead the offence will be deemed to have been caused by the habitual owner who has failed to ensure that a responsible person is in charge of the dog;
  • A young person of fourteen to sixteen will be in charge, but in the first instance we will issue a warning in writing. Otherwise they will be treated in the same way as an adult.
  • A young person of 17 will be treated in exactly the same way as an adult.

Some owners seem to let their dogs have the run of the street; they come and go as they please. How will that situation be tackled?

The owner will still be held to be in charge of the dog and thus will still be liable for a Fixed Penalty Notice. In addition, the dog may also be seized by the Dog Warden Service.

Are there any exemptions to the scheme?

Yes, a registered blind person cannot be expected to clear up after their dog and will not be liable to Fixed Penalty Notices.

What is covered by the term "litter"?

The term litter covers any discarded items, which cause defacement of the area, including cigarette butts, chewing gum, sweet papers or drink cans.

Can you blame people when there aren't enough litterbins, or sometimes they are too full?

Yes, the absence of a litterbin does not give an excuse to drop litter in law. There is usually a litterbin within a reasonable walking distance and people have the option of carrying it home.

I often see children dropping litter, what can you do about that?

In the case where a child drops litter, the action will depend on his/her age;

  • The parents of a child under seventeen will be issued with a written warning in the first instance, and if the offence occurs during school hours or in school uniform, an advisory letter will also be sent to the Head Teacher.
  • A young person of fourteen to seventeen will also receive a written warning;
  • A young person of 17 will be treated in the same way as an adult.
  • If a child continues to litter, despite this intervention, enforcement action such as Fixed Penalty Notice, or formal caution and even Court action will be taken.

Does the Law apply to people throwing litter from moving cars?

The Council have the power to issue fines to people who throw litter from moving cars and the car owners will be traced via their car registration numbers.

What happens to the fixed penalty payments?

The Council records and hold all payments and is required to pass them each year to the Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Council does not get to keep the money.

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Engineering and Environmental Services
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Tame Street
Stalybridge
Tameside
SK15 1ST