Guidance

Fixed penalty notices: issuing and enforcement by councils

How councils and other authorities issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for environmental offences, fine limits and how money can be spent.

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be issued to deal with environmental offences like:

  • littering
  • fly-tipping
  • dog control offences
  • graffiti
  • fly-posting
  • nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
  • abandoned vehicles
  • leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
  • failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
  • failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
  • failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste
  • household bins causing or likely to cause a nuisance to the local amenity

Who can issue fixed penalty notices

Different authorities have the power to issue FPNs for specific offences.

Authority Offence
District council, London Borough council, Council of the City of London, Unitary authority Littering, fly-tipping, graffiti, fly-posting, dog control offences, alarm noise (no nominated keyholder), Noise Act offences, nuisance parking, unauthorised distribution of free literature on designated land, abandoning a vehicle, waste receptacle offences, failure to produce a waste transfer note or waste carrier’s licence
County council Unauthorised distribution of free literature on designated land

Only if designated: littering, graffiti, fly-posting
Common Council of the Isles of Scilly Littering, graffiti, fly-posting, dog control offences, alarm noise (no nominated keyholder), Noise Act offences, nuisance parking, unauthorised distribution of free literature on designated land
Parish council Littering, graffiti, fly-posting, dog control offences (under its own Dog Control Orders)
Police Community Support Officers (on behalf of district council or unitary authority) Littering, dog control offences

Only if authorised: graffiti, fly-posting
Environment Agency Failure to produce a waste transfer note or waste carrier’s licence
Broads Authority Littering, graffiti, dog control offences
National Park Authority Littering, abandoning a vehicle (in areas where the National Park authority is also the planning authority)

What to include on fixed penalty notices

FPNs must state all of the following:

  • the alleged offence, for example, littering or graffiti
  • details about the offence, for example, what sort of litter was dropped
  • where and when the offence took place
  • how the FPN has been issued (in person or by post)
  • the fine imposed (and if there’s a discount for paying early)
  • when the fine must be paid by (this must be at least 14 days)
  • how the fine can be paid

If you have an appeals process, you should also include instructions for how to appeal.

Set penalty levels

Depending on the offence, you can charge penalties within certain limits.

Offence Default penalty Minimum full penalty Maximum full penalty Minimum discounted penalty
Littering £100 £50 £150 £50
Littering from vehicles £100 £65 £150 £50
Dog control offences £75 £50 £80 £50
Graffiti £100 £50 £150 £50
Fly-posting £100 £50 £150 £50
Unauthorised distribution of free literature on designated land £100 £50 £150 £50
Alarm noise: failure to nominate key-holder or to notify local authority of key-holder’s details £75 £50 £80 £50
Nuisance parking £100 £100 £100 £60
Abandoning a vehicle £200 £200 £200 £120
Fly-tipping £200 £150 £400 £120
Failure to produce a waste transfer note £300 £300 £300 £180
Domestic waste receptacle offences £60 £60 £80 £40
Industrial and commercial waste receptacle offences £100 £75 £110 £60
Noise exceeding permitted level - domestic premises £100 £75 £110 £60
Noise exceeding permitted level - licensed premises £500 £500 £500 £500 - no discount allowed

Parish councils can set their own level for dog control offences, but must use the levels set by their district council for other offences.

Getting payment

You can demand payment within 14 days.

You can also accept payment in instalments, if people can’t afford to pay the full amount.

Sending reminder letters

If you decide to send out reminder letters to ask for payment you should wait at least 7 days from the date the FPN was issued.

These should tell the recipient all of the following:

  • how much they must pay
  • when they must pay by
  • what happens if they don’t pay
  • how they can appeal (if they can appeal)

Authorising enforcement staff

Enforcement officers must be authorised in writing by the authority they issue FPNs for.

Parish council enforcement staff must also complete a suitable training course.

All enforcement officers should also:

  • receive appropriate training
  • have a uniform, identification and a Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) notebook

They should follow guidance on how to issue FPNs.

Appeals

If you have an appeals system, include the following information about how to appeal against the FPN:

  • how, when and where to appeal
  • what happens if the appeal is successful (no further action will be taken and the FPN will be cancelled)
  • what happens if the appeal is rejected and the offender doesn’t pay
  • how to complain

Taking offenders to court for non-payment

You should take offenders to court if penalties aren’t paid.

You must wait 14 days after issuing an FPN before you can take legal action.

You must begin legal proceedings within 6 months of the offence.

Keeping records

You must keep records of both:

  • FPNs issued, from issue through to payment or prosecution
  • any evidence in case the FPN goes to court

Issuing FPNs to young people

You can’t issue FPNs to anyone younger than the age of 10.

You can contact the parents or legal guardians of offenders younger than the age of 10, to make them aware of their child or ward’s behaviour.

Your enforcement officers should use special procedures for offenders aged younger than 18 and work with both the youth offending team and children’s services. Find out about special procedures for juveniles in the guidance for authorised enforcement officers.

Income from FPNs

There are rules for how different authorities can use income from FPNs.

Councils

Councils must use income from FPNs as set out in this table.

Offence FPN money can be spent on functions relating to:
Litter Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Dog control Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-posting Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Unauthorised distribution of free printed material on designated land Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Nuisance parking Road traffic, litter and refuse
Abandoning a vehicle Road traffic, litter and refuse
Fly-tipping Waste on land
Noise exceeding permitted levels - domestic premises Statutory noise nuisance, noise at night and audible intruder alarms
Noise exceeding permitted levels - licensed premises Statutory noise nuisance, noise at night and audible intruder alarms
Alarm noise - no keyholder Statutory noise nuisance, noise at night and audible intruder alarms
Failing to show waste documents Waste on land

Other authorities

National Park authorities can use FPN receipts for their own litter enforcement.

The Broads authority can use FPN receipts for functions relating to litter and anti-social behaviour.

The Environment Agency must pay its FPN receipts to the Secretary of State.

PCSOs must pay their FPN receipts to their local authority.

Publishing your enforcement strategy

You should make your enforcement strategy publicly available and include details of:

  • offences included in your FPN scheme
  • how much you’ll fine people for each offence
  • details of any early payment discounts
  • how FPNS are issued
  • how you deal with juvenile offenders
  • what you’ll do if offenders don’t pay
  • how to appeal (if you offer that option)
  • how you’ll spend money received from FPNs
  • records you’ll keep

Legislation

This legislation relating to fixed penalty notices includes:

Published 23 March 2015
Last updated 26 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Removed the exceptions under the 'Income from FPNs' heading as they as they no longer apply following changes in legislation.
  2. Updated what the fly-tipping fixed penalty notice money can be spent on to 'waste on land'.
  3. Changed the entry for how councils can use FPN income from fly-tipping from "There are no restrictions on how councils can use income" to Fly-tipping.
  4. Added 'household bins causing or likely to cause a nuisance to the local amenity' and link to the associated guidance to examples of when fixed penalty notices can be used.
  5. Revised penalty fees for littering, graffiti, fly posting and unauthorised distribution of free literature on designated land. Added penalty fees for littering from vehicles.
  6. Updated as fixed penalty notices can be used for fly-tipping.
  7. First published.