To combat the blight of littering, local authorities across the country use a range of enforcement tools to discourage people from leaving their rubbish on the street.

If you've been caught out by littering or are simply curious to learn what action is taken against those who litter, here is everything you need to know.

What happens if someone is caught littering in the UK?

In England and Wales, it is a criminal offence to leave litter in open-air public and private areas under section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Police and local authorities will usually take action but it is also possible for private individuals to bring cases forward. This is normally dealt with at the Magistrates Court and can see people given a maximum fine of £2500.

MyLawyer states: "Local authorities have the power to specify the level of fine that will apply in their area, with a standard default amount of £75 if they choose not to do so.

Recommended Reading:

Can a neighbour keep my football if it accidentally lands in their garden?

Can someone use my driveway to turn around without permission?

Can my neighbour cut my tree? Find out when they need permission from you

Can I stop my neighbour from letting their property out on Airbnb? 

"The offender has 14 days to pay. Failure to pay can result in a prosecution. Where appropriate, penalty notices may be issued to children aged 10 or over, as well as to adults."

In Scotland, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (section 88) also applies but the way littering is dealt with differs. Here, this offence would be handled by the Sheriff Court.

For Northern Ireland, the website states: "Authorised council officers can issue fixed penalty notices (FPN) for littering offences. The guilty person has 14 days to pay a £50 FPN. If the person pays the FPN, they can't be charged with the littering offence in court. If a person does not pay an FPN, they can be convicted of that offence in a court."