Parish councils: fixed penalty notices

Your powers to issue fixed penalty notices for environmental offences including litter, graffiti, fly-posting and dog control order offences.

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be used by parish councils to deal with environmental offences like litter and graffiti.

They give offenders the chance to pay a fine instead of being prosecuted.

If the offender doesn’t pay the fine within 14 days, you should prosecute them (unless you later decide that the FPN shouldn’t have been issued).

Your enforcement powers

As a parish council, you can issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for the following offences:

  • litter
  • graffiti
  • fly-posting
  • breaching dog control orders

When dealing with local environmental crime, parish councils have different powers to higher tier local authorities. Find out more about how FPNs are issued and enforced by local authorities.

Deciding whether to use your powers

You can choose to issue FPNs for some offences but not for others, depending on your area’s needs. For example, you can choose to issue FPNs to people who litter but not to people who make graffiti.

Announcing your powers

You should publicise all of the following:

  • which powers you plan to use
  • how you’ll enforce them
  • when you’ll start using them

You must consider any comments from the public when deciding how to enforce your powers.

You should only use FPNs if you’re prepared to take court action if the fine is unpaid.

Working with your district council

If you’re considering using your powers to issue FPNs, you should discuss it with your district council. This is to make sure that your work doesn’t duplicate or conflict with their work.

You can also ask your district council about working with other local parish councils to develop a shared enforcement service to issue FPNs.

Setting fixed penalty levels

Penalties for litter, graffiti and fly-posting

You must use the penalty level set by your district council for litter, graffiti and fly-posting.

Penalties for offences under dog control orders

You can set or change the level of fixed penalty for dog control orders (DCOs) that you have created. You must set the level between £50 and £80. Within these limits, you can set different penalty levels for different offences.

For DCOs set up by the district council, you must use the level that it has set. If it hasn’t set a level, you must use the default level of £75.

Offering discounts for fixed penalty notices

You can offer an early payment discount for all fixed penalties.

While you must use the same penalty level as your district council (except for DCO offences) you may offer a different early payment discount, within the set limits.

The minimum discounted rate for all these fixed penalties is £50.

You don’t have to offer an early payment discount.

Spending the money from penalties

You can spend the income from all FPNs that you issue in your parish. You must spend it on functions relating to FPNs, eg enforcement staff, for any of the following:

  • litter
  • graffiti and fly-posting
  • controls on dogs

Quality parish councils

If you’re an approved quality parish council, you can use the income from any FPN that you issue for any of your functions.

Recruiting enforcement staff

You can use your existing staff to issue FPNs but parish councillors must not act as enforcement officers.

You should read the FPN guidance for more information, eg on how to equip your enforcement officers.

Using district council staff

You may be able to buy or trade some time from your district council’s enforcement staff.

This could save you from having to pay to hire or manage new staff of your own.

Training enforcement staff

You must make sure any enforcement officers you’ve authorised, including parish council staff, have completed the approved training course organised by Keep Britain Tidy Network


Police community support officers (PCSOs) don’t have to attend the training.

Issuing FPNs for dog control order offences (DCOs)

You can issue FPNs for offences against your DCOs and your district council’s DCOs in your parish.

People who use trained assistance dogs, eg guide dogs, are exempt from DCOs.

FPNs can’t be offered as an alternative to prosecution for offences against a byelaw (these were used before DCOs for offences like dog fouling).

You can no longer make new DCOs. You can still change or revoke existing DCOs.

Dealing with fly-posting

As a parish council, you can only issue FPNs against the person who put up the posters. You can’t issue FPNs to other people who may benefit from the fly-posting, eg a club owner whose event is being promoted.

Your district council can take action against the beneficiaries so you should give them any information you have.

Major fly-posting

Any commercial fly-posting, except the most minor, should be pursued through the magistrates’ court.

You should take action through the magistrates’ court if many sites in your parish have been fly-posted. You should pass details to your district council and the police.

Removing fly-posting

You don’t have to remove fly-posting. The district council should remove it as it can recover its costs.

You should inform your district council immediately if the fly-posting is of an offensive nature, eg it’s explicit or features racism.


This guidance is not a substitute for legal advice and you should read the relevant legislation:

Published 26 March 2015