Council on Food and Environmental Hygiene
New Penalties for Repeat Cleanliness Offenders
This paper informs Members of the launch of a public consultation
exercise on proposed new penalties for repeat cleanliness offenders.
As part of the wide-ranging measures to improve environmental
hygiene in Hong Kong, the Administration has, since the outbreak
of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) earlier this year,
stepped up enforcement against cleanliness offences.
The ��zero tolerance�� enforcement approach, coupled with
the increase in fixed penalty from $600 to $1,500, have proved
effective in deterring unhygienic practices generally.
Our streets are cleaner than before and the number of offenders
has reduced. In June,
July, August and September 2003, we issued about 3 300, 2 200,
2 200 and 2 100 fixed penalty notices/summonses respectively.
the $1,500 penalty level is high enough for first-time offenders,
this does not seem to be the case for those repeat offenders who
continually soil our environment and put public health at risk.
Since introduction of the fixed penalty system in June
2002, there were 279 repeat offenders out of a total of 25 500
offenders, of which 234 were second-time offenders while 45 have
broken the cleanliness law thrice or more.
tackle this problem, Team Clean chaired by the Chief Secretary
for Administration has explored the feasibility of a number of
options to enhance the deterrent effect against habitual offenders,
community service orders;
publication of names of offenders;
imprisonment terms; and
imposition of criminal records.
After thorough deliberations, Team Clean has concluded
that it would not be appropriate to take forward the last three
options for the time being.
As regards the imposition of community service orders,
a new prosecution scheme is recommended to stiffen the penalties
for repeat offenders �V
a first-time offender of any
of the four cleanliness offences would be issued a fixed penalty
notice of $1,500;
if the offender commits a second
offence within a period of 24 months, the enforcement department
will withdraw the fixed penalty notice issued to the offender
and replace it with a summons and, at the Court hearing, apply
to the Court for a penalty higher than $1,500 and the award of
a community service order. The level and form of penalties will be left to the discretion
of the Court; and
the four cleanliness offences
will be counted as one type of offence under the scheme.
In other words, a person who has committed a spitting offence
and a dog-fouling offence will be treated as a repeat offender
for the purpose of the scheme.
Under the present regulatory framework for cleanliness
offences, enforcement departments have the discretion to issue
summonses instead of fixed penalty notices under certain circumstances.
For example, during the SARS outbreak earlier this year
and prior to enactment of the legislative amendment to raise the
fixed penalty to $1,500, spitting offenders were generally issued
with summonses in lieu of fixed penalty notices to achieve more
deterrent effect. The
fixed penalty regime in force also provides an avenue for enforcement
departments to withdraw fixed penalty notices issued and replace
them with Court summonses when circumstances warrant such withdrawal.
Under the Community Service Orders Ordinance (Cap 378),
the Court may make a community service order against an offender
aged 14 or over who is convicted of an offence punishable with
offender may be required to perform community service for a maximum
of 240 hours under the supervision of a probation officer.
The imposition of community service orders serves both
rehabilitative and reparative purposes. To implement the proposal in paragraph 4, we may need to amend
the Ordinance to enable the imposition of community service orders
on repeat cleanliness offenders.
Before we proceed further, we would like to gauge views
from the public on whether additional penalties should be imposed
on repeat cleanliness offenders.
The consultation exercise will last for a month starting
from 23 October 2003, during which members of the public will
be invited to fill in a questionnaire such that their views could
be factored in the way forward.
Members are invited to note the public consultation exercise.
Welfare and Food Bureau