Hong Kong – Fines and Fixed Penalties (Public Cleanliness and Obstruction) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 gazetted
Fines and Fixed Penalties (Public Cleanliness and Obstruction) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 gazetted
The Fines and Fixed Penalties (Public Cleanliness and Obstruction) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 was published in the Gazette today (May 5). The Bill seeks to raise the fixed penalties for scheduled offences under the Fixed Penalty (Public Cleanliness and Obstruction) Ordinance (Cap. 570) and the maximum fines which may be imposed by the court for certain offences relating to public cleansing or obstruction, so as to enhance deterrent effect and achieve long-term and sustainable improvements in environmental hygiene.
A spokesman for the Environment and Ecology Bureau said, “The current-term Government is determined to enhance the environmental hygiene in Hong Kong so as to meet the public expectation. In his 2022 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that the Government would conduct a comprehensive review on the existing statutory powers and penalties relating to environmental hygiene. The first stage is to raise the fixed penalty level for offences such as littering and shopfront extension.”
The Bill proposes to raise the level of fixed penalty for the seven scheduled offences (Note) which involve the conduct of individual members of the public including disposal of waste and spitting at public places, country parks or into the sea from $1,500 to $3,000; and the fixed penalty for the two scheduled offences mainly related to shopfront extension and illegal disposal of construction waste or large amount of other waste from $1,500 to $6,000. In addition, the Bill proposes to raise the maximum fines for specified scheduled offences under corresponding legislation which may be imposed by the court upon convicted summonses.
The Bill also proposes to empower relevant departments (i.e. the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the Housing Department, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) to issue fixed penalty notices for unlawful depositing of waste, and to empower the Environmental Protection Department to issue fixed penalty notices for depositing of litter or waste in public places. This will enable enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices based on the specific circumstances of the wastes found (e.g. size and types), reduce interdepartmental referrals and ensure a consistent level of fixed penalty for similar non-compliance cases.
The spokesman said, “We propose that the amendments should take effect three months after the gazettal following the passage of the Bill by the Legislative Council so as to allow sufficient time for the Government to conduct comprehensive publicity on the increased fixed penalty to relevant sectors and the public at large.
“Relevant enforcement departments will enhance training and support for frontline officers, such as providing them with body-worn video cameras as appropriate and to update enforcement guidelines. In addition, the Government will enhance publicity and education through online and offline media to ensure that members of the public and relevant sectors are aware of the increased fixed penalty levels and to enhance their law-abiding awareness.”
The Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council for the First Reading and Second Reading on May 17.
Note: The seven scheduled offences are (i) display of bills or posters without permission; (ii) depositing of litter or waste in public spaces; (iii) spitting in public places; (iv) fouling of street by dog faeces; (v) depositing of litter in country parks and special areas; (vi) spitting in country parks and special areas; and (vii) marine littering.