Police need powers to enforce smoking in cars ban

30 September 2016

 Police are still waiting to be given the power to issue fines to people smoking in cars with children.

1 October 2016, marks one year since new legislation was passed making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18. However, as Freedom of Information requests by the media have shown throughout the last 12 months, there have been minimal fines or court summons issued for people breaking this law.

Jayne Willetts, lead on Roads Policing for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the low number of prosecutions was no surprise.

“It’s been really difficult for our members to enforce this law, because since the change of legislation, police have still yet to be given the power to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).

“The original plan was for the public health authority to seek 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 while driving. But because that hasn’t happened, a piece of the jigsaw is missing."

The options that officers do currently have are to either give someone a verbal warning, or report them to the local authorities who can then choose whether to take the prosecution forward.

Giving police the power to issue a FPN is important, but so is an emphasis on education, she said.

“At the end of the day, this is a societal issue, not just one that can be solved by law enforcement alone. There must be an education element and that responsibility also lies with organisations outside of policing, such as the NHS, the Department of Health, GPs, and charities who help people stop smoking.

“Society needs to take responsibility for this issue.”