Guidance

Enforcement officers: issuing fixed penalty notices

How and when you can issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs), if you've been authorised by a district or parish council, or another authority.

Before you can issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) you must be authorised to do so.

Different authorities have different powers to issue FPNs.

You should be familiar with your authority’s:

  • powers
  • strategy for issuing and enforcing FPNs
  • penalty levels
  • areas where FPNs are used

Police community support officers (PCSOs)

PCSOs are authorised to issue FPNs for littering and dog control offences.

Some police forces also authorise their PCSOs to issue FPNs for fly-posting and graffiti.

Your equipment

You should be provided with a uniform and a PACE notebook (designed to record evidence in compliance with the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984).

You must carry evidence that you’re an authorised enforcement officer.

When to issue fixed penalty notices

Only issue an FPN when all of the following apply:

  • an offence has been committed
  • an FPN is a proportionate response
  • there’s evidence to support prosecution if the offender doesn’t pay the fixed penalty
  • the offender understands why the FPN is being issued
  • you believe that the name and address offered by the offender are correct

When not to issue a fixed penalty notice

Don’t issue an FPN if any of the following apply:

  • there’s no criminal liability
  • enforcement action is inappropriate or would be disproportionate for the offence
  • prosecution is more suitable
  • littering is done accidentally

No criminal liability

Don’t issue an FPN in the following cases:

  • the person in question is exempt, eg a blind person whose dog has fouled in an area where a dog control order applies
  • the offender is a child under the age of 10 (inform the child’s parents instead)

Enforcement action is inappropriate or disproportionate

Don’t issue an FPN in the following cases:

  • it’s not in the public interest to do so
  • the offender is vulnerable
  • the offence is trivial

Prosecution is more suitable

Don’t issue an FPN in the following cases:

  • the offence is major, eg deliberate smashing of glass or racist graffiti
  • the offence is committed by a persistent offender
  • the offender is violent or aggressive

Accidental littering

Don’t issue FPNs for accidental littering, for example if something falls from someone’s pocket.

Only issue FPNs where there is evidence of intent to drop litter.

Give offenders the chance to pick up litter before you issue an FPN. Warn them that you will issue an FPN if they don’t.

How to issue an FPN

You should issue FPNs on the spot, if possible.

You can also issue them by post if necessary.

Getting the offender’s details

Ask the offender for their details.

Call the police for assistance in the following cases:

  • the offender refuses to give you their details
  • you suspect the offender has given you false details

A police community support officer (PCSO) can detain the offender for up to 30 minutes before a police constable arrives.

The offender can be fined an additional amount on top of the FPN, if they refuse to give you details, or provide false details.

Using the DVLA’s database

You can use the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) vehicle keeper database to find out the owners of vehicles used in connection with the following offences:

  • littering
  • dog fouling
  • fly-posting

Gathering evidence

Record evidence in your PACE notebook. Include a description of all of the following:

  • the offence
  • the date and time
  • the name and address of the offender
  • the age of the offender
  • the offender’s appearance
  • the weather and light conditions at the time

Issuing FPNs on private land

Before you enter private land to issue FPNs, you should consider whether to get consent, because you don’t have statutory powers of entry in this situation.

This applies to privately owned land which the public can access.

The only exception is for waste collection authorities investigating fly-tipping. They can enter private land without permission.

Children

You can’t issue FPNs to children under 10, as they are below the age of criminal responsibility.

You can contact their parents to make them aware of the offence.

Juveniles

Juveniles are aged 10 to 17.

You should check your authority’s enforcement strategy for dealing with juveniles before issuing FPNs to them.

When issuing FPNs to juveniles, you should:

  • always be in uniform
  • never touch a young person
  • approach from the front, not behind
  • identify yourselves and offer formal identification
  • ideally work in pairs

Juveniles aged 16 to 17

You must get all of the following from the offender:

  • name
  • address
  • age
  • date of birth

Also get the name and address of a parent or legal guardian of the offender.

You must tell the young offender that this information will be shared with their local youth offending team.

If you need to interview a young person under 17 under caution you must do so with an appropriate adult present.

If you have any doubts as to whether the offender is 16 or over, follow the procedures for dealing with 10 to 15 year olds.

Juveniles aged 10 to 15

You can issue an FPN to 10 to 15-year-olds on the spot in the following cases:

  • if you know the offender
  • if the offender’s school has agreed to the use of FPNs

You must tell the offender’s parents, guardian or school as soon as possible.

If you don’t know the offender or their school hasn’t agreed to the use of an FPN, get the young person’s details, and details of their parents or legal guardian to make further enquiries.

If it’s decided that an FPN is suitable, issue it to the offender in person with a parent or legal guardian present.

If you have to issue the FPN in writing, notify the offender’s parent or legal guardian at the same time.

Published 23 March 2015
Last updated 15 February 2017 + show all updates
  1. Changed "You must have permission from the landowner or occupier before you enter private land to issue FPNs" to "Before you enter private land to issue FPNs, you should consider whether to get consent, because you don't have statutory powers of entry in this situation."
  2. First published.