Spitting on the street is not only unhygienic and antisocial, it can also land you in a lot of trouble – as one man found out recently in court.
As part of Ealing Council’s work towards cleaner streets, enforcement officers look out for antisocial offences on the borough’s streets under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This includes spitting and littering.
Cracking down on antisocial behaviour
When the council’s enforcement officers see someone drop any form of litter, including cigarette butts, or spit or even urinate on the street, they approach the offender with their body camera turned on.
They explain who they are and highlight the offence then ask for person’s ID and issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £150.
When caught spitting in the street in High Street in Ealing near the Drapers Arms, Shahram Sheybani, of Drayton Green Road in Hanwell, had the opportunity to pay the FPN or go to magistrates’ court. He chose to go to court with a witness.
On 5 September 2023, Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court found inconsistencies in the evidence from Mr Sheybani and his witness. The defendant was found guilty of the spitting offence and ordered to pay £548. He then chose to appeal this decision to crown court but, on 2 February 2024, the decision was upheld by Isleworth Crown Court and he was ordered to pay a higher total of £1367, to include the council’s additional court costs.
If you get an FPN
Most people pay FPNs they have been issued with. Failing to comply with an enforcement officer or giving false information is a further offence under the Environmental Protection Act.
Any FPNs that are left unpaid, or challenged, end up being decided in a hearing at a magistrates’ court. At these hearings, Ealing Council has a 99% success rate in prosecuting littering FPNs. When this happens, the defendant not only has to pay their original FPN but will also end up paying much more – because they will be ordered by the court to cover the council’s investigative, administrative and legal costs.
Indeed, the council is one of the top local authorities in the country when it comes to taking action against people who drop litter.
Councillor Deirdre Costigan, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for climate action, said: “Residents in our borough are proud of where they live and keeping our streets clean is a priority for us. We won’t let a small minority spoil things for the rest of us, so we are taking enforcement very seriously, whether it’s for dropping litter, cigarette butts or antisocial behaviour such as spitting.”