Street Litter

Newham Council is tackling street litter by promising to fine anyone who drops litter.

  • Enforcement contract starts in July adding capacity to our existing enforcement team to tackle litter problems
  • £150 fixed penalty notices will be issued for dropping any litter
  • Cigarette butts, chewing gum and spitting will all be targeted in crackdown

The Council has appointed a contractor – Kingdom Local Authority Support - to tackle the problem of litter on Newham’s streets.  

General FAQs

Why are we doing this?

We currently have an established Enforcement team that deal with Environmental Crime and Community Safety issues. We are looking to complement our current officer numbers with an external contractor that specialises in environmental crime.

Action we can take

There are various types of enforcement action we can take to ensure compliance with the law dependent on the situation. These include:

  • issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
  • issuing a statutory notice
  • prosecution
  • warning letters
  • informal action

How much is a fixed penalty notice?

Fixed Penalty Notice amounts vary depending on the type of offence committed. Amounts maybe reduced for early payments.

Disputing a Fixed Penalty Notice

While there is no legal right of appeal to a Fixed Penalty Notice, you can query an FPN in the form of a ‘representation’.

Representations will not be considered on the basis that:

  • you did not know the law
  • you did not know the law was being enforced
  • it was the first time you committed the offence;
  • you have always done this and never received a penalty or warning before
  • you believe the officer issuing the FPN was rude or did not behave appropriately

You cannot make a representation based on the behaviour of the Enforcement Officer.  If you wish to make a complaint about the conduct or behaviour of an Officer you should visit the Council’s website and use the complaints section.

We will process the complaint separately to the FPN representation. You are still liable to prosecution if you don't pay the FPN on time.

If you have been issued an FPN by LA Support Ltd and this FPN starts LAS followed by a 9 digit number please note you cannot make a representation to the Council and must contact LAS support directly by emailing

Alternatively look at the bottom of your FPN for additional information. .

If you do not have access to the internet you will find LA Support’s address on the bottom of the FPN issued to you.  You can write to them at this address.

Please note if your FPN was issued by LA Support and you incorrectly make a representation to the Newham Enforcement Team you will not receive a response.

I don't agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a fixed penalty notice. Can I refuse to pay it?

The penalty notice has been issued to give you an opportunity to avoid prosecution in the Magistrates Court. If you do not take up this opportunity then you could be summonsed to appear in Court. If you are found guilty of the offence then the Magistrates Court could give you a higher penalty plus you may need to pay additional costs.

Shouldn't there be signs up to warn me about the legislation?

We regularly run advertising campaigns, and place signage in areas of high footfall, to remind people of their responsibilities. If warning signs are not present, this does not excuse someone from acting in an anti-social manner. If you need to look around for a warning sign before dropping litter etc. then you probably already know that the action is illegal.

Why should I pay a fine when there were no bins nearby at the time?

Dropping litter is a criminal offence under Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. There are is no statutory defence in relation to there not being any nearby litter bins. The same applies to the disposal of bagged 'dog waste'.

Where bins are not available, it is up to everyone to act responsibly and make arrangements to either take their litter home or carry it until a litter bin is available.

I received a fixed penalty notice for dropping one harmless cigarette butt, surely something so small cannot be considered litter?

The legal definition of the littering offence does not include any limitations on the size of the litter. The offence relates to the action of dropping litter and not the size of the object. Therefore a cigarette butt can be classed as litter and so can items such as chewing gum and sweet wrappers.

Cigarette butts are biodegradable, right?

The fact that an item may be biodegradable is irrelevant as it does not immediately disappear once it has been dropped. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable as they are made from cellulose acetate which takes many years to degrade.

Cigarette butts aren't really waste and they can't be placed in litter bins because they will cause fires?

In the street environment, smokers can get rid of their butts in a street litter bin. Care should be taken to make sure that the cigarette has been completely put out to avoid causing a fire by igniting the contents of the bin.

My Council Tax pays for the street cleaning service so what's the problem with you picking up my cigarette butts?

The Council Tax revenue pays for a wide range of essential services including such things as the Police, Fire and Rescue, road maintenance and social services. Spending money on cleaning up your litter means that less can be spent on the essential services.

If I pick up the litter after an officer has approached me, do I still receive a fine?

Offering to pick up the litter is not a legal defence to committing the offence. You should not have acted in an anti-social manner by dropping the litter. If you are caught by an enforcement officer then you should expect to receive a fine.

I have limited funds and will not be able to pay in time, what can I do?

The penalty notice has been issued as an opportunity to avoid prosecution in a Magistrates Court. If you are unable to pay the penalty in the prescribed period then you could be summonsed to Court.

If the matter does result in legal action, and you are found guilty, then your financial means will be taken into consideration by the Magistrates Court. They will then assess the level of the fine and agree to a time limit for making payment of the fine and any related costs

Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice?

There are no formal grounds of appeal against a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because a Fixed Penalty Notice is an invitation for you to effectively discharge your liability to prosecution. In essence this means that if you agree that an offence has been committed by you then by paying the sum of money specified, no further action in the form of prosecution for the offence can be undertaken by the Council.

This method of dealing with offences not only saves the time involved for everyone (including the offender) in prosecuting cases at Court, but the cost associated with a Fixed Penalty Notice is likely to be substantially lower than any fine that can be imposed by the courts. The maximum penalty which can be imposed by the Courts for littering is £2,500.

But I don’t agree that I committed the offence for which I have received a Fixed Penalty Notice

If you do not agree that you committed the offence then the matter will be dealt with through formal prosecution via the courts. It will then be up to the Court, on receiving evidence, to determine whether or not an offence was committed and therefore whether or not any penalty should be imposed.

Effectively this means that the formal court route becomes the mechanism for those wishing to appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice.  It should be noted that the financial penalty imposed by the Courts can be significantly greater than that which is imposed through a Fixed Penalty Notice.

Why should I pay a Fixed Penalty Notice when there were no litter bins nearby at the time?

As with signage it is not feasible for the Council to put litter bins in every street, road and highway in the borough though of course every effort is made to place bins where they are most needed such as in town centres and parks and open spaces. We are keen to make our borough cleaner, greener and safer. Where bins are not available then it is up to everyone to act responsibly and make arrangements to either take their litter home or carry it until a litter bin is available.

I wasn’t given a warning, surely that is not fair?

is The Council has a no tolerance policy and once the offence has been committed our officers have to issue an FPN as this discharges the liability to be taken to Court for the littering offence.

Where do the Enforcement Officers patrol?

The officers are tasked to areas of highest demand and will patrol wherever there is evidence of littering. It has been shown that town centres are hotspot areas and cigarette butts are the most common litter issue.

If I put it down a drain is that an offence?

Placing a cigarette end down a drain or in a stream is still an offence which will result in the issue of an FPN.

Can I complain about the Enforcement Officers behaviour?

If you feel that any of our officer’s behaviour was unacceptable, please write to the address provided on your FPN and your complaint will be investigated.

You should be aware that making a complaint is treated separately to the issue of the FPN and as an offence is still alleged you remain liable to prosecution unless you choose to pay the FPN within the time specified.

Can my Local Councillor represent me in this matter?

Local Councillors may not get involved in this process. This is a legal process. The Local Authority can only discuss the matter with the alleged offender.

Can I pay by instalments?

We do not accept payments by instalments. However, each case is considered on its own merit.

What about vulnerable people

If at the time of the alleged offence a person is identified as vulnerable then they will be educated and advised and an FPN will not be issued. If an impairment is not obvious at the time the alleged offence is observed and an FPN issued then through the Representation process the person issued the ticket can provide evidence that they are classed as vulnerable, then the ticket maybe withdrawn by the local authority.

Can FPNs be issued to Minors

Legally culpability is set at 12 years of age, However, with regard to Environmental Crime enforcement, FPNs will only be issued to adults 18 years or older.