Offence of Littering - Opportunity to pay fixed fine. Local Council

Hi All.  I hope someone can give me some advice. 

A few weeks ago my wife was out shopping with her aunt (who is a smoker) - The aunt had finished a cigarette and put it down a drain/gutter as apparently there was no bin around. 

She was seen by an 'authorised officer' that approached her and asked for details. which she refused to give. The officer followed them both around insisting on her details but she would not give them. 

They would have seen my wife drive off afterwards as I have today received a notice of opportunity to pay a fine of £80 for littering.  The car is registered in my name - so guessing they got the details from DVLA. 

The letter states that they have reason to believe that I littered under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  It offers me the opportunity to pay - but no opportunity to deny/appeal the claim (or to give them the details of the person that actually did it) .  

I could give them details of the aunt, who has already said she will pay the fine, or I could just tell them it wasn't me, I don't smoke, and I can prove I was not there.

The officer was apparently rude and intimidating - so would rather tell the council where to go, rather than arrange for the fine to be paid. 

If not paid, I will apprently be referred to the Magistrates Court

Any thoughts? - Other than telling my 'aunt-in law' to use a bin next time. 

Thanks.

C

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Comments

  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,332
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    I think you just don't pay, and then it's up to them to decide whether to pursue a "proper" prosecution of you. I would guess they're unlikely to bother in this scenario where they're not sure that you were even the person stopped.
  • You didn’t litter, just tell them that. But if they ask for the person who did, then I think you’re obliged to give the information out? Happy to be corrected though. 
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,332
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    You didn’t litter, just tell them that. But if they ask for the person who did, then I think you’re obliged to give the information out? Happy to be corrected though. 
    Under what law? The alleged offence wasn't even a motoring-related one.
  • Okell
    Okell Posts: 611
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    edited 30 December 2023 at 1:35PM
    It's a criminal offence so it has to be proved "beyond reasonable doubt".  I'm not sure how the prosecution would be able to prove that you committed the offence if you can establish that you weren't there.  The enforcement officer would also be perjuring themself if they said they saw you dropping the butt when it was somebody else.

    I'm not certain there's any obligation on you to identify the culprit, but I don't know for sure.  (It's not like a driving offence where legislation specifically provides for the registered keeper of a vehicle to identify who was driving it at the time of an alleged offence). 

    As a former smoker myself, I'd advise your great aunt that putting a cigarette butt anywhere other than in a bin when in a public place is as stupid as holding a mobile phone while sitting behind the steering wheel of a car with the engine turned on.  Given the lack of bins in public places she should carry butts with her to dispose of later.


    (NB  -  the above presumes dropping a butt down a grating is littering.  It may not be - but if it is they can't prove that you dropped it so it doesn't matter...)


  • Okell
    Okell Posts: 611
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    user1977 said:
    You didn’t litter, just tell them that. But if they ask for the person who did, then I think you’re obliged to give the information out? Happy to be corrected though. 
    Under what law? The alleged offence wasn't even a motoring-related one.
    I was going to say that as well, but had second thoughts and edited my reply.

    I don't think the OP is obliged to answer any question about who did it unless - and this is probably highly unlikely to happen - the council decided to prosecute anyway and the OP ended up in the witness box and was asked "who did drop the butt if it wasn't you?".  They can't very well say "I don't know" or "I refuse to answer".

    Perhaps the littering offence would be time barred by then...  (I don't know but I presume any prosecution against the true culprit would have to commence before 6 months from the offence)
  • TELLIT01
    TELLIT01 Posts: 16,251
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    I would contact the council in writing, and say you were not in town at the time of the alleged offence so it could not have been you.  Ask for photographic evidence of both the offence and your presence at the time.  They certainly can't provide that evidence.  If it did get to court the OP would have to answer 'I don't know' if asked who did drop the item.  They weren't there and any answer other than that would be hearsay.
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,459
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    Littering makes the world we all live in a worse place, why is everyone trying to give the litterer a way out?
    OP wasn't the litterer, wasn't even present when the offence occurred so the only comment he could make about the identity of the offender would be hearsay 
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Pass on the details of your wife's aunt, like a decent citizen.  Let her deal with it, it's her offence.
  • Alderbank
    Alderbank Posts: 2,696
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    edited 30 December 2023 at 4:09PM
    Okell said:
    user1977 said:
    You didn’t litter, just tell them that. But if they ask for the person who did, then I think you’re obliged to give the information out? Happy to be corrected though. 
    Under what law? The alleged offence wasn't even a motoring-related one.

    I don't think the OP is obliged to answer any question about who did it unless - and this is probably highly unlikely to happen - the council decided to prosecute anyway and the OP ended up in the witness box and was asked "who did drop the butt if it wasn't you?".  They can't very well say "I don't know" or "I refuse to answer".

    I am a little surprised at your considered answer.

    In that highly unlikely witness box (note the word 'witness') the OP would first be asked if he was present when the offence was committed.
    If he truthfully answered that he was not and only heard about it from others, I don't think the judge would allow any further questions about what is legally called hearsay.

    In that Kafka-like courtroom he could be asked whether his wife had taken the car out that afternoon, but that would be evidence of nothing more than she had gone somewhere in the car.

    Apology: crossed post with @lincroft1710
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