A guide to Fixed Penalty Notices

The issuing of fixed penalty notices is just one of the means by which the problem of littering and dog fouling offences are being tackled in Wirral.

What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?

A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is a notice issued by an authorised enforcement officer, to a person who has committed an environmental offence. FPNs may be issued on the spot or through the post. An FPN is issued as an alternative to prosecution. By paying the fine you can discharge your liability for the offence and no further action will be taken against you.  If the FPN remains unpaid, Wirral Council will refer the matter to the Magistrates Court for prosecution.  If you are convicted of the offence, this will result in you receiving not only a fine and court costs but also a criminal record. An FPN does not result in a criminal record.

Can I appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice?

Yes, an appeal against a fixed penalty notice is through the magistrates' court.

What does the legislation say in relation to littering?

The legislation states that a person is guilty of an offence if that person throws down, drops or otherwise deposits any litter in any place to which this section applies and leaves it.

What does the legislation say in relation to dog fouling?

The legislation states that a person is guilty of an offence if a dog defecates at any time on designated land and a person who is in charge of the dog at that time fails to remove the faeces from the land forthwith.

What is Wirral Council's approach to littering?

Wirral Council has a robust approach towards those people who commit environmental crimes such as littering, and dog fouling and fly tipping offences. Officers patrol public places in areas where littering and dog fouling are prevalent and are instructed to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice when an offence is witnessed.  They have no discretion in this matter and are working to Wirral Council’s direction.  This ensures officers are consistent towards people when issuing a fixed penalty notice.

Do I have to provide my details to Environmental Enforcement Officers?

Yes. It is an offence if a person fails to give their name and address when required to do so by an authorised officer, or gives a false or inaccurate name or address.

I shouldn't have to pay the FPN as there were no litter bins?

The fact that there are no litter bins within the immediate vicinity is not a valid defence. There are over 4,000 litter bins in Wirral but we can not place a bin on every street, road and highway. We place bins where they are most needed and where levels of footfall are high such as town centres and beach promenades.

It is your responsibility if you are aware that you do not have access to a nearby litter bin, to either wait to dispose of your litter until you find one or take your litter home to dispose of in your own domestic waste bin. Litter that is not properly disposed of in a bin is still littering, whether it's ‘carefully’ placed or simply thrown on the floor.

I shouldn't have to pay the FPN as there were no signs?

This is not a valid defence.  The legislation relating to littering offences does not require the council to place signs on every street, road, pavement, highway, park, beach or any open space to tell people not to drop litter or leave dog poo or to tell them that enforcement officers may be patrolling the area.

The majority of people know not to drop litter and FPNs are to deter those from littering who spoil our local environment. We have no plans to erect signs in relation to littering enforcement.

I thought that I was on private land?

The legislation covers littering on all land that is open to the air, whether it is public or private.

The officers were parked illegally?

Authorised officers are exempt from double yellow line restrictions if they need to stop and react in order to discharge their duties.

Are chewing gum and cigarette butts littering?

Yes. All chewing gum and cigarette related materials is considered to be litter.

What is recorded on the officer's body worn camera?

The CCTV footage recorded is that of the interaction between the officer and the member of the public they are speaking to, and not of any alleged offence. Any offence is witnessed by an authorised officer prior to an offender being approached in relation to an offence. 

The interaction is recorded to safeguard both parties and ensure that the integrity of both parties can be verified via review of the footage if required at a later date.

Is it an offence to dispose of my litter down a grid?

Yes. A grid is simply a utility sited on land for the drainage of surface waters and is covered by the relevant legislation.

Where do officers patrol?

In the course of their duties officers will not normally remain static in a specific location, they will position themselves to maximise the effectiveness of their patrols in locations where littering is prevalent. We use local feedback from residents to target areas of concern.

I didn't know you couldn't drop litter?

It has been an offence to drop and leave litter since 1990. Since that time both nationally and locally there have been educational and awareness raising campaigns to tell people not to drop litter. This includes the work of Keep Britain Tidy.  Ignorance of any particular law is not a valid defence. Enforcement Officers can only act upon what they have witnessed.

The enforcement officers were in plain clothes - I didn't know or see them?

Authorised officers may patrol in plain clothes and are deployed in areas where littering and dog fouling is prevalent.

Can I pay by instalments?

Wirral Council does not accept part payments or payment by instalments. The maximum extension available to pay is 12 weeks from the date of the alleged offence.

Can I get a duplicate FPN?

We are unable to re-send to you your Fixed Penalty Notice as they have a unique bar code that we are unable to duplicate. Payment methods can be found below.

How can I pay my Fixed Penalty Notice?

You can pay a fixed penalty notice by using one of the following methods:

Pay online

  • select ‘pay online by card’, and then select ‘Fixed Penalty Notices’ and the subsequent option that applies to your fixed penalty notice. Please note free internet facilities are available at all Wirral Council libraries
  • by cheque, postal order or cash to:
    Wirral Council, PO BOX 2, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6BU.
    Please make cheques payable to 'Wirral Council' and attach the lower part of your Fixed Penalty Notice. Please note that receipts are not issued. If sending cash you are advised to send it by registered post. Please allow 5 working days for payments made by post
  • by phone using debit/credit card on 0151 606 2345 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • by cash – you can pay by cash at any Post Office or PayPoint outlet. You will need to present the Fixed Penalty Notice containing your unique barcode and you will need to pay in full.

Please ensure you enter the correct Fixed Penalty Notice reference number as any mistakes could delay the payment reaching your account.

I am under 18 years of age and received a Fixed Penalty Notice

Currently Wirral Council will only issue a Fixed Penalty Notice to people aged 18 years and above. If you are under 18 and receive a Fixed Penalty Notice, please contact us using the details on the notice. We will ask for proof of your age which is usually a photo ID with your date of birth, for example your passport or driving license.

How do I complain to Wirral Council?

The quickest and simplest way to make a complaint or to let us have feedback is to complain online. If you prefer you can make your complaint by email and letter, also you can leave a voicemail for the Customer Feedback Team to contact you. Our contact details are:

PO Box 290
Brighton Street
CH27 9FQ
Tel: 0151 666 3117

What is a complaint?

A complaint is "an expression of dissatisfaction about the council's action or lack of action or about the standard of a service, whether the action taken or the service was provided by the council itself or a body acting on behalf of the Council."

Fixed Penalty Notices for environmental offences