Penalties for Littering and Killer Litter Offences in Singapore
Littering fines in Singapore have jumped from 8,195 tickets issued in 2012 to 39,000 in 2018, with the offence of littering being a recurring one.
With the rise in littering offences in Singapore, the authorities have been stepping up their enforcement efforts to increase social graciousness and to keep Singapore clean. This article discusses the various penalties for littering and killer litter offences.
What is Littering?
Littering, as defined under section 17 of the Environmental Public Health Act of Singapore (EPHA), is depositing, dropping, placing or throwing any article or thing in any public place except in a dustbin provided for the deposit of rubbish.
This includes the littering of plastic cups, tissue papers, cigarettes and rubber bands.
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It really just be like that sometimes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #ICYMI: A man was fined $300 for shooting two rubber bands that landed on a public road. The man was caught committing the offence of “throwing a rubber band in a public place”, by NEA officers in the area observing his actions. ? – According to Singapore’s Environmental Public Health Act, it is a crime to throw refuse (i.e. rubbish) in any public place. This act is better known as “littering”, and includes pretty much any act that involves throwing rubbish on the ground, be it from a high-rise building or a vehicle.? Offenders risk a fine of up to $2,000 for a first-time offence! Repeat offenders risk fines of up to $10,000, depending on how many times they’ve been caught littering again. ? – The ticket received by the man for his offence has been spread across social media, and some think that the law is too harsh. ? What do you think, though? Do you think he should have just been let off with a warning? Or should his actions not have been considered littering in the first place? ?? #SingaporeLegalAdvice
What are the Littering Offences and their Penalties in Singapore?
If you commit a littering offence under the EPHA, you may be arrested without a warrant by any police officer or authorised officer and taken before the courts or served with a notice to attend court at a particular time.
If convicted of littering, you will be liable for a fine and/or imprisonment, depending on the type of offence committed:
|Section 19 – the dropping or spilling of substances such as liquid, sand, sawdust and falling fragments of any article or thing; and
Any other littering offence under sections 17 to 20 (excluding sections 17(1)(h) and 20(1))
|Fine up to $2,000
On second conviction:
Fine up to $4,000
Third or subsequent conviction:
Fine up to $10,000
|Section 17(1)(h) – discarding motor vehicle (cancelled registration) or furniture or bulky article||Fine up to $50,000
On second or subsequent conviction:
Fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months
|Section 20(1) – dumping and disposal of refuse/waste from a vehicle||Fine up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months
On second or subsequent conviction:
Fine up to $100,000 and imprisonment of at least 1 month and up to 12 months
You may also have to pay for the costs and expenses incurred to clean or restore the public place. If you do not pay the required amount within 14 days after demand, that can be reported to the Magistrate’s court and the amount be recovered by the court.
Corrective Work Order (CWO)
If you are at least 16 years of age when convicted of an offence under section 17 or 19, a Corrective Work Order (CWO) may be given either in addition or in lieu of any other sentence, should the court believe that the order is expedient for your reformation. The penalty involves making you pick up rubbish or clean public areas for up to 12 hours.
The aim of the CWO is to help with the reformation of the offender, protect environmental health and deter littering. However, many people may find carrying out a CWO to be shameful. This may be because of the requirement to wear a luminous pink and yellow CWO vest while carrying out your duties, that clearly identifies them to the public as litterbugs.
Obligations under the CWO
Under the CWO, you are obligated to report to the supervision officer. You will be given notice of the place, date, time and number of hours 14 days before the date on which the corrective work is to be performed.
If you report to the supervision officer on the wrong day/time, are at least 15 minutes late or have been certified to be medically unfit to perform corrective work, you will not be allowed to perform any corrective work on that day.
Instead, the supervision officer may fix another place, date and time for you to perform corrective work. In addition, if you did not turn up for work due to illness, you must provide a medical certificate within 7 days after the specified day of work.
You have to satisfactorily perform the number of hours specified in the CWO at the place of work and in the manner instructed by the supervision officer. This number of hours will not exceed 3 hours a day.
You cannot behave in an offensive, threatening or disorderly manner towards your supervision officer or fellow CWO performers while carrying out the work. You also cannot hire someone else to carry out the work for you.
Breach of CWO
The supervision officer may ask you to leave the place of work if you do not carry out the work in a satisfactory manner. Any work done will also not be counted as fulfilling the CWO.
For this breach of the CWO (or breaches of any other obligations under the CWO), you may be summoned to appear before the court or be arrested.
If you do not have any reasonable excuse for the breach, you may be ordered to pay a fine up to $5,000 or may be imprisoned for up to 2 months. However, even after paying the fine or serving the jail term, you may still have to carry out the CWO.
Appealing against a Littering Offence
You may appeal to the National Environment Agency (NEA) against a littering offence. The appeal form can be downloaded here. Since the majority of appeals are rejected, it is important that you provide sufficient documentary evidence to substantiate your appeal.
For instance, if the reason for submitting the appeal is financial reasons, you will likely have to submit your income statements. The processing time will approximately be 14 days upon the receipt of the appeal and supporting documents.
Penalties for Killer Litter
Littering can also have serious consequences. “Killer litter” is a term that describes articles or things thrown from high-rise buildings which may cause death. Such articles may range from bottles to bicycle tyres to even mah-jong tables.
Killer litter is an offence not regulated by the EPHA but by the Penal Code. If you commit killer litter, you may be liable for one of the following offences depending on the nature of the incident:
|Killer Litter Offence under the Penal Code||Penalties||Illustration|
|Section 336 – For committing a rash act that endangered human life
|Fine up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months
|A man who threw a glass bottle out of his flat in Tampines, which hit and damaged the roof of a car, was jailed for 6 weeks.|
|Section 337 – For causing hurt to any person by committing a rash act that endangered human life
|Fine up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 1 year
|If the glass bottle thrown by the man out of his Tampines flat had hit a person and caused hurt instead in the form of bodily pain or bruises.|
|Section 338 – For causing grievous injury to any person by a rash act that endangered human life||Fine up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 4 years||If the glass bottle thrown by the man out of his Tampines flat had hit a person and caused grievous injury in the form of permanent disability or death.|
If the acts had been negligently committed instead, the maximum fine and imprisonment terms for the offences above are half that of the rashly committed act.
For instance, if the man had left several glass bottles right beside the window sill and a glass bottle toppled out of the flat due to a gust of wind, hitting and damaging a car below, the man’s actions would be considered a negligent act that endangered human life.
The man would then be liable for a fine of up to $1,500 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to 3 months.
How are minors who committed a killer litter offence penalised?
You may be eligible for probation if you are a first-time offender who is older than 16 years of age and younger than 21 years of age. A 16-year-old offender who committed 5 killer litter offences over a year by throwing bricks and bicycle wheels from high floors was ordered to undergo 3 years of probation.
Alternatively, you may be sentenced to undergo reformative training at a reformative training centre. This may happen when the dominant sentencing consideration is rehabilitation but there is a lack of familial support, or if the offender is a repeat offender.
Littering is a crime that can be mitigated if each of us plays our part in taking care of the environment.
Also, to prevent any killer litter accidents, you should always ensure that you do not place or hang any object within or outside your flat in a way that could result in the occurrence of killer litter.
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