LGA: Courts must hand out tougher punishments to defer fly-tippers

Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that no-one convicted of fly-tipping since the Government introduced new guidelines in 2014 has been slapped with the maximum £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison by the courts.

photo of flytipping - sofa and toys by side of the road

Criminals who dump waste and fly-tip need to be handed tougher sentences to deter them amid an almost 40 per cent rise in fly-tipping incidents since 2012, councils say today.

Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that no-one convicted of fly-tipping since the Government introduced new guidelines in 2014 has been slapped with the maximum £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison by the courts.

This is despite fly-tipping incidents rocketing by 39.6 per cent since 2012, up from 714,637 to 997,553 in 2017/18.

Councils are working hard to try and reduce fly-tipping and take enforcement action against the worst offenders. They also have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for smaller instances of fly-tipping.

However, between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services. Demand on councils’ legal duties, such as caring for elderly and disabled people, protecting children and providing homelessness support means less money is available for discretionary powers – like issuing penalty notices for fly-tipping.

These funding pressures mean council enforcement cannot keep up with spiralling cases of fly-tipping. Councils took action on 494,034 incidents in 2017/18 – up by nearly 70,000 in five years.

The LGA is calling for the Government to review guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher sentences. With councils in England facing an overall funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, the Spending Review needs to ensure councils have the funding needed to investigate and prosecute fly-tippers.

Cllr Martin Tett, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment Board, said:

“Fly-tipping is unsightly, unacceptable and inexcusable environmental vandalism.

Councils are doing everything they can to try and deter fly-tippers. However, prosecuting them often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations, with a high threshold of proof, at a time when councils face significant budget pressures.

Consistent and hard-hitting prosecutions are needed to deter rogue operators and fly-tippers. Councils also need adequate funding to investigate incidents and ensure fly-tippers do not go unpunished.”

Case studies

Buckinghamshire County Council

Buckinghamshire has a zero-tolerance approach to bringing fly-tippers to justice, having recently successfully taken their 707th prosecution. The council has also benefited from adopting the S.C.R.A.P campaign which has helped residents to dispose of their waste safely, responsibly and within the law. The county has seen a reduction in instances of dumping in the first few months of 2019, after an average annual increase of fly-tipping of 14 per cent between 2013 and July 2018.

Redbridge Council

Redbridge Council recently handed a fine of more than £1,200 to a fly-tipper who was caught dumping waste. The council has a zero-tolerance approach to fly-tipping and they have uploaded footage of people dumping waste on the streets of Redbridge on the council’s website. The images are posted regularly to help find, name and shame fly-tippers.

Craven District Council

Craven District Council recently prosecuted a fly-tipper who will have to pay more than £1,000. Crimes such as fly-tipping, littering and abandoned vehicles cost the council thousands each year. The council has set up a dedicated fly-tipping team and work to tackle fly-tipping cost almost £75,000 last year.

East Herts District Council

Hertfordshire recently fell victim to some of the worst fly-tipping seen in the country when two huge mounds of rubbish were found. A total of 60 tonnes of rubbish made up of processed residential waste, which had been sorted and compacted, was discovered just a few miles apart in the space of a week. One of the mounds led to the closure of a school’s sports field facility. East Herts District Council found it difficult to identify the perpetrators and are called on witnesses to come forward with information.

Notes to editors

  1. LGA analysis of the most recent statistics published by Defra – 2017/18 – shows that fly-tipping has increased by 39.6 per cent since 2012/13.
  2. The Waste (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 provide magistrates with processes and guidance to reach a reasonable outcome. The LGA analysis shows the number of fines since 2012/13. Prosecution data includes investigation actions, warning letter actions, statutory notice actions and Fixed-Penalty Notice actions.
  3. Councils can issue Fixed-Penalty Notices of up to £400 under Section 34 (2A) of the Environment Protection Act. This allows councils to trace any waste back to an individual who is found to have failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that they transferred the waste to an authorised person.
  4. The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils.


#CouncilsCan: Spending Review 2019

With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Securing the financial sustainability of local services must be the top priority for the Spending Review.

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