The information for each contravention will be assessed carefully by the Enforcement Officer; once this has been done, appropriate action can then be taken.
There are a number of enforcement actions that can be used, they include but are not limited to the following:-
Warnings are appropriate for advising offenders about contraventions that are easily remedied. Officers will issue suitable advice and guidance and set a timescale for remedial action. A written record is recorded of all verbal warnings issued.
The enforcement officer has the option to serve the offender with a written warning clearly stating the nature of the contravention and the expectation that it will not be repeated. The warning will note that no formal action will be taken at that time but that it will remain on file for 12 months and can be used as a factor if any future contraventions occur.
A Simple Caution (previously known as a Formal Caution) is a non statutory disposal for adult offenders. It may be used for cases involving first time, low level offenses where a Simple Caution can meet the public interest.
An admission to committing the offence is needed from the offender; this should be recorded on the offender's record. It may influence how they are dealt with, should they commit any further environmental crime and can also be used in any subsequent court proceedings.
Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN):
Authorised Officers can issue FPN's for certain environmental crime offences (listed under Fixed Penalty Notice Offences, see appendix 1). FPN's are used as an alternative to prosecution.
An FPN gives the alleged offender the opportunity to avoid prosecution by discharging their responsibility by paying the fine. It is essential that FPN's are only issued where there is sufficient evidence to uphold a prosecution.
The FPN must be paid within 14 days of it being served. If it is not paid the case will then be considered for prosecution in the magistrate's court.
Serving a Statutory Notice:
Some offences require the serving of a formal notice on individuals, businesses or other organisations. The notice informs them that they need to carry out specific legal requirements. Offences of this type include but are not limited to, street litter control, damage or obstruction of the highway and abandoned vehicles. The notice will explain what is wrong, what is required to put it right, the time scale by which it should be put right and what the consequences are if the notice is not complied with.
There are two clear principles that should be considered before any prosecution is embarked upon. These are the evidential test and the public interest test. The evidential test requires there to be a "realistic prospect of conviction" based upon reliable and admissible evidence. The public interest test is all about balancing the cost of legal action against the crime and likely outcome and the seriousness of the offence against the potential harmful effect on the defendant.
If evidential and public interest principles have been applied and if the alternative actions at the Councils disposal are considered inappropriate or inadequate for the offence, or where other actions has been taken (Fixed Penalty Notice) to allow the offender to discharge their responsibility but has failed to do so, then the Council can initiate prosecution proceedings.