FAILING to respond to a fixed penalty notice has resulted in fines and criminal convictions for 28 people found guilty of littering and smoke-free offences in Woking.
The council has successfully prosecuted 24 litterbugs and four anti-social smokers for failing to pay fines issued in November 2014
as part of its ‘We’ll butt out, if you butt in’ public education and enforcement campaign.
Of the 24 littering offences, 23 were for cigarette butts carelessly discarded
on Woking’s streets.
The smoke-free offences were for smoking in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, namely Mercia Walk, Market Walk and the covered entrance into the Peacocks Shopping Centre by Toys ’R’ Us.
Officers were on patrol in the town centre when the defendants were witnessed littering or smoking in a smoke-free place. They were cautioned and informed that they had committed an offence.
They were then given the opportunity to accept a fixed penalty notice, in which they had 14 days to pay, or be liable for prosecution.
Following non-payment, the council issued proceedings against them. The matters were heard at Redhill Magistrates’ Court and all 28 defendants were found guilty and were sentenced to pay fines ranging from £75 to £250, in addition to costs to the council of up to £440 and a victim surcharge of £20.
Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Environmental Control, said: “When people hear or read about these convictions hopefully they will understand that the council is serious about tackling these public health issues.
“Not only are collections of cigarette butts unsightly, they are dirty and cost councils thousands of pounds to clear up each year. It’s not acceptable for anyone to dispose of their litter on the ground, spoiling the area and expecting others to clear up for them.
“I hope, too, that the smoke-free convictions will remind people of the restrictions imposed by the smoking ban, which were put in place to protect people against the dangers of second-hand cigarette smoke.
“There will be future enforcement campaigns, so the message is this; break the law and you will be fined. Choose to ignore it and it will cost you even more further down the line. Keeping the borough a clean and desirable place to live is in everyone’s interest.”
Since the beginning of January the council has issued 46 fixed penalty notices; 17 for small scale fly-tipping, 20 for cigarette related litter, and nine for smoke-free offences.
Litter enforcement patrols are carried out regularly across the borough and fully trained officers have powers to issue fixed penalty notices to anyone caught littering or smoking in a smoke-free area.
The offence of littering carries an on-the-spot £75 penalty or prosecution through the court with a fine of up to £2,500, and the offence of smoking in a smoke-free area carries a £50 penalty or prosecution through the court with a fine of up to £200.