Fixed Penalty Notices - Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the relevant FAQ section of this page before making a representation.

If you still want to make a representation after reading this page, please write to:

  • Enforcement Service
    Level 1 North - River Park House
    225 High Road
    Wood Green
    N22 8HQ

If your representation is rejected, we will not consider any additional representation relating to the FPN. If you make a representation outside of the 14 days, it will not be considered.

Member of the public FAQs

Why should I pay, there were no signs telling me not to drop litter?

We are not required to place signs in every street, road, highway or open park/space to tell people not to litter. Littering is a criminal offence and has been for many years.

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Why should I pay a Fixed Penalty Notice when there were no litter bins nearby?

It is not possible to place litter bins in every street, road and highway. Every effort is made to place bins where they are most needed and where there are the most people, such as in town centres and major shopping areas. Where bins are not available it is up to you to act responsibly and either take your litter home or carry it until a bin is available.

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I only dropped my cigarette end - why should such a small item be treated the same way as dropping larger items of litter?

By law, litter includes small items such as cigarette butts and chewing gum. In many ways these items are more of a nuisance and more expensive to clean up than other items of rubbish.

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I can’t put my cigarette end in the bin as there is a danger it will catch fire

Smokers are responsible for ensuring that they completely extinguish their cigarettes before placing them in the bin. Most bins have stubbing plates provided. If no suitable bin is nearby, smokers should either take their cigarette end with them or carry them until a suitable receptacle is available.

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I offered to pick the litter up, why was I still issued with a FPN?

The offence relates to the dropping, throwing or depositing of litter and leaving it. So whether or not you subsequently volunteer to pick up your litter, you have committed an offence and will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.

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I wasn't given a warning, surely that is not fair?

Littering is an offence. We can take enforcement action where the offence is committed and do not have to give people a warning.

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This is all a bit petty isn't it, what's the big deal about a few crisp packets and cigarette stubs anyway?

Littering is not only a serious blight on our environment but very costly to the council as well.

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What happens if I receive a second Fixed Penalty Notice within 12 months of receiving the first?

Should the same person commit the same offence more than once in any twelve-month period, consideration will be given to prosecuting the individual rather than issuing a further Fixed Penalty Notice.

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Is this just a money-making scheme; are your enforcement officers issued quotas or given bonuses for the number of FPNs issued?

No quotas are set for the number of FPNs issued. All of our enforcement officers will issue FPNs where there is evidence that an offence has been committed. Enforcement officers are paid a salary that is not determined by the number of FPNs issued. The aim of this enforcement activity is to stop people from littering, not to make money.

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When was this agreed and by who?

This was approved at a Cabinet Member Signing on Monday, 31 October, 2016. Full details and minutes of that meeting are available here.

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I live in a flat above a shop and put my waste out too late/early because I had something else to do

If residents waste is found presented outside of the allocated time, it is considered unlawfully deposited and may result in a fine.

Rubbish left on the street for extended periods of time creates a range of issues, which can include vermin and limited accessibility for pedestrians, particularly those with disabilities. We have timings in place for a reason and our timed collections for flats above shops are designed to limit the amount of time that rubbish is left out on our pavements.

Our timed collections for residents in flats above shops gives residents 14 opportunities each week to present their waste an hour before the collection time.

The information is displayed on signs in the street and on our website.

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My bins were overflowing so I put my excess waste on the corner, I’ve seen other people do this 

This is still considered fly-tipping and you will be subject to enforcement action.

You can recycle even more items and using the council's recycling service, reduces the amount of waste that is transported to landfill so it is also better for the environment.

You can find out more information on recycling here.

You can also report anyone you see fly-tipping to us and we will investigate this.

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It was only one box or refuse sack that I placed out on my way to work, that’s not fly-tipping

Fly-tipping is defined as any waste that has been deposited onto any land illegally.

Even if you only deposit one large box or refuse sack it is considered fly-tipping and you may receive a £400 Fixed Penalty Notice. 

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I didn’t want the item and thought someone else could use it 

If you deposit unwanted furniture or household items on the pavement without permission from the council, it may be deemed as fly-tipping, and you could receive a £400 FPN.

You can take your unwanted, but still useable items along to our Reuse and Recycling Centre or your local registered charity shop.

There are also a number of mobile apps that residents use to share or donate unwanted items.

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I had visitors and they placed the waste out for me 

The law says your waste is your responsibility and you have a duty to ensure it is not illegally deposited. If someone else illegally deposits your waste, you can still receive a fine.

Residents and businesses have a Duty of Care to secure, and dispose of their waste lawfully under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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I paid someone that knocked at my door and offered to collect my waste

The law says your waste is your responsibility and you have a duty to ensure it is not illegally deposited. Before you pay someone to remove your waste, you should check to confirm they are licensed with the Environment Agency to carry waste.

The person or company should provide you with a written description of the waste the collect from you. You should complete and retain the transfer note, if someone else illegally deposits your waste, you can still receive a fine. Residents and businesses have a Duty of Care to secure, and dispose of their waste lawfully; under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

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I placed the waste in my garden, someone must have moved it

The law says your waste is your responsibility and you have a duty to ensure that you take steps to prevent your waste escaping from your control. You must store it safely and securely in your bin, not on top, or next to your bin.

If your waste is found unlawfully deposited, you can still receive a fine. Under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, residents and businesses have a Duty of Care to take steps to prevent waste escaping out of their control.

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Business FAQs

I have a contract, but I ran out of commercial refuse sack or stickers, so I used black sacks whilst I waited for my new sacks to be delivered

It is your responsibility to make sure that you have a supply of commercial waste sacks at all times. Commercial waste should not be disposed of by using domestic black sacks.

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My waste contractor said I could place the waste out at any time and they would collect it

If you present your waste in sacks then you are required to comply with the timed collections for your street. See details of our Timed Collections schedule (PDF, 197KB).

Failure to comply with the timed collection schedule means that a fine by way of a FPN will be issued.

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I don’t need a contract because I take my business waste home or to my other business

Businesses are required by law to have legitimate arrangements in place to store and dispose of their waste and be able to produce the documents on request. Arrangements include: having a registered waste carrier collecting your waste or transporting it yourself to a refuse tip and obtaining a transfer notice.

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I had a new member of staff who didn’t know what to do, it won’t happen again

It is your responsibility to make sure that your staff are aware of the process in place to dispose of your waste.

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I have a contract with a company that collects my waste once a week, but I have no paperwork

Your Duty of Care lasts from the moment you produce the waste until you give it to a licensed waste business to deal with. This includes making sure that you have the relevant paperwork and you are responsible to check how that business deals with your waste. If you suspect it is not following the Duty of Care you should report it by calling the environmental regulators hotline 0800 80 70 60 (24-hour service).

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I pay my business rates so I don’t need a contract to collect my commercial waste

Your Business Rates do not cover the collection and disposal of your commercial waste.

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There was a missed collection, and it would have been unsanitary to keep the waste in the shop so I put it out before my collection time

It is your responsibility to ensure that your waste is not presented for collection outside of the timed collection slots. Any missed collections should be referred to your commercial waste contractor.

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All the shops in the area do the same as me so I didn’t know it was wrong

By law, since 1990, it has been a legal responsibility of 'any commercial activity' whether run from home or its own premises - to manage the waste it produces.

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Not all the waste was mine, only some of it was

Any waste incorrectly disposed of is liable for a fine. One black bag is treated as a fly tip. Whether all or part of the waste is yours, you have committed an offence.

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Page last updated:

October 24, 2022

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