'Give officers the tools to enforce the law'

30 June 2016

Further to media coverage today reporting the lack of fines issued to people smoking in cars with children, we want to reiterate that until police are given more powers, they will remain unable to issue these.

On 1 October 2015, new legislation was passed making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18. However, since this date, a series of Freedom of Information requests by the media, the most recent this week, have shown no fines or court summons have yet been issued.

Tim Rogers, deputy roads policing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said this was not a surprise because police have not been given the power to enact the law.

“The original plan was for the public health authority to change the law and give police extended powers. This would allow officers to stop motorists and issue on-the-spot fines, like they currently do for other offences, such as using a mobile phone whilst driving.

“However, when the law was changed, further legislation needed to be passed, in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice, to give police the power to issue these notices. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, which means there’s a piece of the jigsaw missing.”

Mr Rogers said it came down to the fact that the power to issue a fixed penalty notice hasn’t been given to police, unlike for offences such as excess speed or not wearing a seat belt.

“At the moment, when a motorist is pulled over and is smoking in the car with a child, without the ability to issue a fine the emphasis is on an officer to warn them, and offer education around the law and dangers of what they’re doing. If they do choose to report the motorist, the paperwork would be handed to the local authority which should then follow up the prosecution”.

"Changing the mindset of the public so they understand that smoking in cars with children is unacceptable is an issue of education to be led by public health authorities.”