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Local authorities have a range of powers available to tackle fly-tipping. These include the power to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of up to £400 for fly-tipping offences, including to those caught fly-tipping and householders who pass their waste to a fly-tipper. Local authorities also have enhanced powers to search and seize vehicles of suspected fly-tippers. Powers to issue FPNs provide local authorities with an efficient mechanism to hold fly-tipping perpetrators to account without having to go to court, which can be a time consuming, resource-intensive and expensive process. Additionally, the ability to issue FPNs can deter potential fly-tippers from fly-tipping in the first place.
Local authorities also have the ability to take those accused of fly-tipping to court. If a fly-tipper is convicted, it is punishable by up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court. Defra has already worked with the Sentencing Council to amend sentencing guidance for magistrates to ensure that they are aware of local fixed penalty levels for these offences. The Resources and Waste Strategy published in December 2018 includes a number of commitments to improve this, including working with the Sentencing Council to increase magistrates’ awareness of the prevalence and importance of waste crime, helping local authorities improve the quality of cases and ensuring that the Environmental Offences Definitive Guideline is kept up to date and that magistrates are effectively trained on it.
Recent figures showed that there were 76,000 fixed penalty notices issued by local authorities in 2018/19, up by 11% from 2017/18. Prosecution outcome figures from 2018/19 also showed that the value of total fines increased by 29% to £1,090,000.