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Penalty notices for disorder are a simple and swift way for officers to deal with low level, anti-social and nuisance behaviour, such as littering, wasting police time, and drunk and disorderly.

Once the notice has been issued the person must either pay the amount shown or request a hearing within 21 days, details of which are shown on the back of the notice.

The notices are intended to free up police officers' time from dealing with such behaviour (i.e. preparing statements and appearing at court). The officer will either give the offender a notice at the scene of the incident or in some cases when they are in custody; it is still a more efficient method of dealing with the offender than charging them. It can even be given weeks after the event if the circumstances are appropriate.

The notices can only be given if the offender agrees to having the matter dealt with in this way. Once they have agreed, a fine of £50 or £80, depending on the offence, will be issued. The incentive for the alleged offender to 'pay-up' is that no criminal conviction or admission of guilt is associated with payment of the penalty. If the offender fails to pay the PND, then the fine will be increased and eventually a warrant will be issued.

If the offender refuses the PND, then the case will proceed as normal to the courts. If found guilty, however, this will be recorded as a criminal conviction.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.