Fixed Penalty Notices
Following a successful litter campaign in October and November 2014 to reduce the incidence of cigarette butt litter, which raised awareness and trialled an increased enforcement presence, Woking Borough Council have employed two full-time environmental enforcement officers to patrol the Borough looking for acts of littering, dog fouling and smoking in smoke free places.
We are working in partnership with Kingdom Security to provide a uniformed presence of environmental enforcement officers across the borough with a primary remit for the town centre, parks and open spaces. The officers will be issuing fixed penalty notices (FPN's) for the offences of leaving litter which will include items such as chewing gum, cigarette butts and other forms of litter such as food packaging, failing to pick up after your dog and for smoking in places which are enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, work places or work vehicles.
Anyone issued with a FPN can pay on line, over the phone on 0333 313 4295 or via any PayPoint location.
If you have been issued with a fixed penalty notice and would like to challenge it, then representations will be received within 14 days from the date on the notice. The FAQ's below may answer any questions you have.
You can also write to:
Woking Borough Council
Frequently asked Questions
How much is a fixed penalty notice?
Littering FPNs are £75.00 payable within 14 days from issue. This amount is reduced to £50.00 for early payment, within 10 days from issue. Smokefree FPNs are £50.00 payable within 29 days from issue. This amount is reduced to £30.00 for early payment, within 15 days from issue. Dog fouling FPNs are £50.00 with no discount for early payment.
I don't agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a fixed penalty notice. Can I refuse to pay it?
If you do not agree that you committed the offence for which you received the fixed penalty notice then the matter will be dealt with through formal prosecution via the magistrates court. It will then be up to the court, on receiving evidence, to determine whether or not an offence was committed and therefore whether or not any penalty should be imposed. Effectively this means that the formal court route becomes the mechanism for those wishing to challenge a fixed penalty notice. It should be noted that the financial penalty imposed by the courts can be significantly higher than that which is imposed through a fixed penalty notice.
Shouldn't there be signs up to warn me about the legislation?
We are not required to place signs in every street, road, highway, park or open space to tell people to comply with relevant legislation or to inform them that environmental enforcement patrols are operating in the area. Litter, dog fouling and smokefree legislation have all been in force for many years and the Council regularly runs campaigns, awareness events and issues press releases. Signage is placed in areas of high footfall and hot spot areas to remind people of their responsibilities. We would rather people did not commit offences in the first place, rather than fine them for doing so.
Why should I pay a fine when there were no bins nearby at the time?
As with signage it is not feasible for us to put litter bins in every street, road and highway in the borough, though of course every effort is made to place bins where they are most needed and where there are the greatest levels of pedestrian footfall, such as in the town centre, major shopping areas, parks and open spaces. Dog poo, once bagged, can be placed in any litter bin in the borough in addition to the recognisable red dog bins. Where bins are not available, it is up to everyone to act responsibly and make arrangements to either take their litter home or carry it until a litter bin is available.
I received a fixed penalty notice for dropping one harmless cigarette butt, surely something so small cannot be considered litter?
Lots of harmless little things add up to very big harmful things. Cigarettes are by far the most littered item in the world. Billions of cigarette butts are littered every day. They are costly to clean up and are often deadly. Fires are caused every year by littered cigarettes and the environmental impact is significant. When you throw even one cigarette butt onto the ground, you are adding to the problem and if no one did it, then there wouldnt be a problem! Chewing gum is also litter!
Cigarette butts are biodegradable, right?
Wrong. Cigarette butts are not fully biodegradable, it's a common misconception that cigarette filters are made of cotton, instead they are made from cellulose acetate, which is a synthetic plastic-like substance also found in photographic film, which never fully decomposes.
Cigarette butts aren't really waste and they can't be placed in litter bins because they will cause fires?
Smokers are responsible for ensuring that they completely extinguish their cigarettes before placing them in the bin. Cigarette waste is the same as any other waste in terms of litter laws and you can be issued with a fixed penalty notice for not disposing of cigarette butts properly. Obviously care should be taken to avoid any risk of fire and in particular cigarette ends should be completely extinguished before the butt is thrown into the bin. There is also no reason why smokers cannot carry portable 'butt bins' with them or create their own by placing some soil or sand in a small tin.
If I pick up the litter after an officer has approached me, do I still receive a fine?
Littering offences relate to the dropping, throwing down or depositing of any litter and leaving it. Therefore, whether or not you volunteer to pick up your litter afterwards, you have still committed an offence and will receive a fixed penalty notice.
I was issued with an FPN and I wasn't given a warning, surely that is not fair?
Our educational campaigns have been continual in recent years. Publicity includes posters, advertising, articles in the press, radio interviews and podcasts articles in our residents magazine and increased high-profile patrolling where we ceased enforcement and handed out warning postcards instead. On top of this, organisations like Keep Britain Tidy do an excellent job in helping us get the anti-littering message across. Of course all the publicity in the world is of no use whatsoever if the message is being ignored. So we must take our enforcement duties seriously too and back up the important messages with real action. This is the aim of our enforcement patrols which seek to target those who choose to ignore the littering, smokefree and dog fouling laws which the vast majority abide by.
I have limited funds and will not be able to pay in time, what can I do?
You can write into us to explain your circumstances. This will be reviewed and you may be granted a time extension to pay the fixed penalty notice. The fixed penalty notice cannot be paid in instalments. The online link for representations is above, or you can write to Environmental Health at the Council Offices.
Where do the enforcement officers patrol?
The officers are tasked to areas of highest demand and will patrol wherever there is evidence of littering or dog fouling. It has been shown that town centres are hotspot areas and cigarette butts are the most common litter issue.
Can I have a refund for my fixed penalty notice?
Anyone who is issued with a fixed penalty notice for dropping cigarette butts/smoking related litter (or any other smoking related offence, such as smoking in a smoke free place) will be given a postcard along with their FPN inviting them to attend a smoking cessation course through Quit 51. If they pay their fine, sign up to the stop smoking service and quit for four consecutive weeks, they will receive a refund of up to £50 in Boots vouchers. To redeem this special offer, call Quit 51 on 0800622 6968, or text smokefree to 66777.