Officers take to the streets to tackle litter

Released on January 30, 2020

Litter enforcement signs 2
Picture shows Councillors David Rouane and Jenny Hannaby with South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils' new signs

Waste enforcement officers from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils are heading out to a series of events where they will meet the public to talk about littering. They have also put together a top ten list of excuses given to them from people caught in the act.

These range from “I couldn’t see a bin” to “There are no signs about not littering”. There’ll be no excuse about not seeing the signs as the councils have produced new banners to be put up in town centres where litter enforcement patrols are being carried out.

From 4 February officers will be out across the districts talking about the work they do tackling litter and fly-tips and how members of the public can report offences and help with investigations.

Officers’ Top Ten excuses given by people caught littering

  1. I didn’t think a cigarette butt was litter
  2. It was already littered so won't matter if I add some more
  3. I didn't know it was against the law
  4. I didn't know you could be fined for dropping litter
  5. I'd have to walk all the way over to the bin
  6. I keep the road sweepers in a job
  7. You go and stop others first, then I will stop
  8. It's bio-degradable
  9. I couldn’t see a bin
  10. There are no signs about not littering*

*All of the people who gave these excuses were given a Fixed Penalty Notice and £80 fine

Cllr Jenny Hannaby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “There are no excuses for littering. It is so unnecessary. Is it so hard to find a bin when you have finished your food or drink in the street? Even if it is, then what is stopping you taking your litter back to your work or home and put it in the bin there. Littering is an offence and we fine people when they are caught.”

Cllr David Rouane, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “People who drop litter can’t care about the environment they live in or the people around them. It’s anti-social, unattractive and in the case of the most littered items - such as chewing gum, cigarette butts and plastic takeaway boxes - detrimental to wildlife too.”

Residents can meet the team tackling littering at:

  • Thame Market on 4 February 8.45am – 2.15pm
  • Wallingford Market 7 February 11am – 1pm
  • Henley Market Place 13 February 11am – 1pm
  • Didcot at Cornerstone 21 February 11am – 1pm
  • Wantage Market Place 28 February 11am – 1pm
  • Faringdon Farmers Market, The Old Town Hall 3 March 11am - 1pm
  • Abingdon Market Place 6 March 11am -1pm

People caught littering are issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice and an accompanying fine (currently £80). If they refuse to pay the fine, they can be prosecuted for non-payment and if found guilty will face higher costs. The following people failed to pay the fine and were prosecuted at Oxford Magistrates’ Court:

  • In January 2020 a woman was ordered to pay £432 after she was caught dropping a cigarette butt in Market Place, Wantage.
  • In January 2020 a man was prosecuted and ordered to pay £766.11 after being convicted of littering a black bin bag of rubbish on a pavement in Lower Broadway, Didcot.
  • In December 2019 a man was prosecuted and order to pay £540 in court costs and fines after officers identified him as a passenger who dropped a cigarette butt from a vehicle in Milton Park and he refused to pay the fine.
  • In February 2019 a man caught littering in Abingdon failed to pay the fine and was ordered to pay more than £600 by the courts.
Notes to editors

A £80 fixed penalty notice can be reduced to £50 if paid within ten days.

Number of FPNs given out in last 5 years (Apr – Mar)

2019/20 - 27 (to date)

2018/19 - 32 

2017/18 - 40

2016/17 - 32

2015/16 - 46