It is a crime to drop litter, and the offender can be prosecuted in a magistrates court and fined. Littering from a vehicle, especially when it is travelling at speed, presents particular difficulties for local authority enforcement officers in clearly identifying the offender.
An amendment tabled during the Commons Report stage of the Localism Bill proposes to extend the scope of the current offence of littering to make the registered keeper of a vehicle criminally liable whether or not they were present or personally responsible for the littering. That approach raises serious concerns over fairness and proportionality.
A key element in tackling litter is changing littering behaviour. That is why the Government are supporting, through their grant to the charity Keep Britain Tidy, the Love Where You Live campaign which draws together business, communities, local authorities and civil society organisations in partnership to secure a lasting change in behaviour. As part of this, we will be looking to work further with business and others to develop ways of tackling vehicle litter.
Borough councils in London will shortly be able to use new powers acquired through a private Bill currently before Parliament to tackle vehicle littering by issuing a civil penalty. It makes sense for Government to seek to learn the lessons of that approach in London before considering further legislation in this area.