Fly-tipping: what is it, UK law meaning, Labour pledge, maximum penalty explained and how can you report it?

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Under Labour plans fly-tippers in England and Wales would be given the job of cleaning up the dumped rubbish

Labour have pledged to tackle anti-social behaviour, with Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed promising to take action on fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping has been on the increase since the pandemic, with councils reporting 1.1 million incidents in the 12 months from March 2020 to March 2021. Speaking about the proposals in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Political Thinking with Nick Robinson podcast, Reed explained: “If you make the mess, you’ll clear up the mess and it actually has a very beneficial effect on the entire community.”

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The Shadow Justice Secretary has proposed “clean-up squads” to tackle fly-tipping, with offenders given the job of cleaning up the dumped rubbish and being issued with fixed penalty cleaning notices. So, what is fly-tipping and how can you report it? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping, which is also referred to as illegal dumping, is when someone disposes of waste on public or private property. It can be as simple as someone tipping a mattress, dumping household waste or even electrical items. Not only does fly-tipping make an area look ugly, it can also be dangerous, especially if the dumped items contain toxic materials such as asbestos.

What is the meaning of fly-tipping?

Fly-tipping is defined as the “illegal deposit of any waste onto land that does not have a licence to accept it” according to Keep Britain Tidy.

Illegal fly tipping currently has a maximum penalty of five years in jail and an unlimited fine (Photo: Getty Images)Illegal fly tipping currently has a maximum penalty of five years in jail and an unlimited fine (Photo: Getty Images)
Illegal fly tipping currently has a maximum penalty of five years in jail and an unlimited fine (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

What has Labour said?

In an interview with Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4, the Shadow Justice Minister said “fresh thinking” was needed in regards to anti-social behaviour. Speaking on the topic of fly-tipping, Reed added: “If you make the mess, you’ll clear up the mess and it actually has a very beneficial effect on the entire community.”

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Labour has once again been sharing former leader Tony Blair’s famous promise of “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”. The phrase was used by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper in a speech on 16 February. The Shadow Home Secretary told an audience in London: “it was right then, it is right now, it is what we did then, it is what we will do again”.

Reported by the BBC, in response to Labour’s proposals, Home Office Minister Robert Jenrick said the plans for policing were not credible, pointing to voting records on the Police, Courts and Sentences Bill and the Nationality and Borders Act, adding that the Labour party is “soft on crime”.

What is the maximum penalty?

Fly-tipping is a criminal offence that carries penalties including prison time and hefty fines. According to Woking Council, those caught illegally dumping waste could face a maximum penalty fine of up to £50,000 and/or 12 months in prison. They also state that conviction in a Crown Court could result in a 5 year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

How can you report fly-tipping?

If you witness someone fly-tipping or want to report fly-tipping in your area you can do this by reaching out to your local authority or the Environment Agency. Local authorities will be able to deal with small scale dumping, whilst fly-tipping which includes dangerous materials will be dealt with by the Environment Agency, who you can get in touch with on their national number 0800 807 060.

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According to Keep Britain Tidy, it’s important that if you witness a fly-tipping incident to take note of the following:

  • Date, time and place
  • What the waste looks like and how much there is
  • Descriptions of any person and/or vehicles involved along with the registration number

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