Last November a relative was issued with an FPN for littering in Lambeth, SW London. She claims it was an accident, a tissue fell from her pocket when she took out her phone and she didn't notice. We believe this is grounds for claiming innocence under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) document, see:

Part 1A - Effective enforcement Code of practice for litter and refuse

September 2019 (updated October 2023)

Page 6 paragraph 11B.4 and Page 12 paragraph 11I.7d.

We also believe the "Authorised Officer" is supposed to have been trained to ask you to pick up your litter and only issue an FPN if you refuse, but this may not a legal requirement, only a recommendation. He went straight for the FPN.

Since there is no mechanism to appeal the FPN in the borough where the alleged offence took place, she has decided to have her day in court, or possibly argue her case with the council's solicitors once she receives a summons and a court date.

I have looked to see if there is any time limit on how long can elapse before the summons must be issued and I've seen a figure of 6 months maximum. It is unclear if this is from the date of the FPN or one of the dates of the threatening letters she subsequently received or even if the limit exists at all. There may be more information in Lexus Nexis, but we don't have access to this, and further google searches have not been fruitful. The 6 months is up and she has still has not received a summons. Can anyone please clarify the law in this situation in layman's terms?

  • 2
    pleas spell out all acronyms at least once.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 7 at 22:49
  • @ohwilleke Is that better? I've added a link to the DEFRA document as well. Commented May 7 at 23:00
  • 1
    Great! Thanks! It isn't always clear from context what is meant, especially to someone reading this a lot time from now when the acronyms may have changed.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented May 7 at 23:04


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