Littering is a very common offence in Singapore and many if not all Singaporeans know the legal implications of littering in Singapore. This article explains what littering is, the legal implications of it and the types of punishments for littering.
What is Littering?
According to section 17 of the Environmental Public Health Act (EPHA), the prohibition against throwing refuse, etc., in any public place, littering is defined as –
a) Depositing, dropping, placing or throwing any dust, dirt, paper, ash, carcass, refuse, box, barrel, bale or any other article or thing in any public place except in a dustbin or other receptacle provided for the deposit of refuse and rubbish.
Under section 17(1)(g) of the EPHA, it also clearly defines the offence of spitting. It states that no person shall spit any substance or expel mucus from the nose upon or onto any street or any public place, except in a dustbin or other receptacle provided for the deposit of refuse and rubbish.
Punishments for the Offence of Littering
Often, if someone is caught littering in a public place by an officer from the National Environment Agency (NEA), a composition fine of $300 will be issued if the offender is a first-time offender. The composition fine serves as a deterrent for future offences. However, if an offender is prosecuted, he or she will be issued a Notice to Attend court. If convicted, the punishments are as follows for the following offences:
a) Section 19 of the EPHA –
dropping or spilling of substances such as noxious liquid, sand, earth, gravel, clay, loam, manure, refuse, sawdust, shavings, stone, straw or any other similar matter or things. This includes any offences under section 17 to 20 of the EPHA, excluding sections 17(1)9h) and 20(1) of the EPHA.
If found guilty and convicted, the offender may be fined not more than $2,000 on the first conviction, not more than $4,000 on the second conviction and not more than
b) Section 17(1)(h) of the EPHA –
discarding or abandoning in any public place any motor vehicle whose registration has been cancelled under section 27 of the Road Traffic Act, any furniture or any bulky article.
If found guilty and convicted, the offender may be fined not more than $50,000 on the first conviction and on the second or subsequent conviction, a fine not more than $10,000 or an imprisonment term not exceeding 3 months or to both.
c) Section 20(1) of the EPHA –
dumping and disposal of refuse, waste or any other article from a vehicle in a public place; or uses a vehicle for the purpose of dumping or disposing of any refuse, waste or any other article in a public place.
If found guilty and convicted, the offender may be fined not more than $50,000 or an imprisonment term not exceeding 12 months, or to both. Second and subsequent offences, offender may face up to $100,000 and imprisonment of at least 1 month but not more than 12 months.
Under section 89 of the EPHA, offenders may also have to pay compensation, damage, fees, costs and expenses incurred from the offence and is to be determined by the Magistrate’s or District Court.
Corrective Work Order (CWO)
In some cases, the court may order a CWO, in addition to or with, for littering offences. Under section 21A of the EPHA it states that –
Where a person who is 16 years of age or above is convicted of an offence under section 17 or 19, and if the court by or before which he is convicted is satisfied that it is expedient with a view to his reformation and the protection the environment and environmental public health that he should be required to perform unpaid work in relation to the cleaning of any premises, the court shall, in lieu of or in addition to any other order, punishment or sentence and unless it has the special reasons for not doing so.
A CWO requires the offender to perform such work for not more than 12 hours total. While preforming the CWO, the offender will be required to wear a luminous pink and yellow vest indicating that the offender is performing CWO. He or she will also be required to be under the supervision of a supervising officer.
Obligations of Person Subjected to Corrective Work Order
Under section 21B of the EPHA, the offender who must perform CWO, must report to the supervision officer and subsequently from time to time notify him of any change of address and perform for the number of hours specified in the order such work at such places and times and in such manner as he may be instructed by the supervision officer.
The CWO shall be performed during the period of 12 months beginning with the date of the order; but unless revoked, the order shall remain in force until the offer has worked under it for the number of hours specified. The supervision officer shall not require the offender to work under one or more CWO for a continuous period more than 3 hours per day.
Breach of Corrective Work Order
If the manner in which the duty was carried out is unsatisfactory to the supervision officer, he may ask the offender to leave and if so, any work done prior is not counted to be fulfilling the CWO.
Such breach could result in the offender being summoned to court again or even arrested. The penalty for the breach could be a fine not more than $5,000 or an imprisonment term of not more than 2 months. However, it is important to note that the offender will still have to serve the CWO regardless.
High-Rise Littering or Killer Litter
As Singapore is a nation that scales upwards, with towering skyscrapers and high-rise flats and apartments, throwing litter from such buildings may be dangerous, even fatal. Hence, the law regulating such offence will be stricter and harsher than the littering offences mentioned above.
Under section 336 of the Penal Code, committing a rash act that endanger human life, the punishments are as follows:
- An imprisonment term which may extend to 6 months, or with fine which may extend to $2,500, or with both.
- An example of such an offence would be if someone threw a chair out the window from a building but no one was injured.
Under section 337 of the Penal Code, causing hurt to any person by committing a rash act that endangered human life, the punishments are as follows:
- An imprisonment term which may extend to 1 year, or with fine which may extend to $5,000, or with both.
- An example of such an offence would be if someone threw a luggage out the window of a glass bottle out a high-rise building and causing minor injury to a passer-by.
Under section 338 of the Penal Code, causing grievous injury to any person by a rash act that endangered human life, the punishments are as follows:
- An imprisonment term which may extend to 4 years, or with fine which may extend to $10,000, or with both.
- For example, in 2019, an Australian man was charged for an offence under section 338 for throwing a glass bottle out of condominium, which hit a 73-year-old man and causing his death.
Seeking Legal Advice
Please note that this article is purely informative and does not serve as legal advice. In the event that you or someone you know is facing similar charges, it is advisable to consult a lawyer for advice. Here at Populus Law Corporation, our team specialises in criminal law and will give you an all-rounded approach in handling your case. You can contact us here.