A mum-of-two from West Sussex has been left stunned after being handed a fine of up to £100 for accidentally dropping a chocolate bar wrapper.
Tracy Longley, 45, from Chichester, said she was at South Pallant car park after a shopping trip with her 12-year-old daughter yesterday afternoon (Thursday), when she was approached by two East Hampshire environmental enforcement officers.
She said: "I opened a chocolate bar and placed the remainder in my pocket. As I took my hand out the tiny wrapper must have fallen out with it. It was a corner and no more than 1 inch x 0.5 inches. I didn't see it fall.
"As I was getting into my car, two environmental officers walked up. One walked off and the other came to the drivers seat.
"I got out of the car, picked it up and apologised. I thought that would be the end of it but he told me I had committed a criminal offence and printed out the penalty notice."
On the penalty notice, the enforcement officer said Tracy had committed an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 by 'throwing the corner of a chocolate wrapper to the ground and walking away'.
Tracy said 'there was no way' the officer could have seen her deliberately throw the wrapper, insisting 'it was not intentional at all'.
The notice confirmed the £100 fine which would be reduced to £75 if paid within 14 days.
"He [the environmental officer] did not accept my apology or even look at me," Tracy said.
"He did not take a photo of the corner of the wrapper. He told me to take it to the Magistrates' Court if I had an issue.
"I was incredulous. I thought he was joking. I have appealed it and got an automated email response saying it can take up to 14 working days to be dealt with but my fine will be £100 by then. With all the crime and anti-social behaviour going on and they chase after me for this."
Chichester District Council said it 'looks into all cases where people ask for a review or make a complaint'.