Since fines for litter thrown out of cars were increased in February 2013, the EPA has seen a steady decline in the payment of litter fines and an increase in the number of people avoiding paying the fine by submitting a statutory declaration, often wrongfully or in bad faith.
Clearly, this has a negative impact on the authority, and its reputation.
What did we do?
We tested changes to the way that fine information and the payment process is presented to litter offenders.
We wanted to see what would impact their decision and behaviour to either submit a statutory declaration denying the offence, ignore a fine, or make payment.
Working with the EPA, we:
– modified the two main communications channels about litter fines; the letters and reminders sent to offenders as well as the EPA webpages ‘how to pay your fine’
– altered the layout and language using established behaviour change approaches including loss aversion, personalisation and salience– changed the process for submitting a statutory declaration, directing people to download the form from the website, rather than providing it with the fine letter
– altered wording on the form to highlight the consequences of submitting a false statutory declaration.
We then measured the number of queries and calls to EPA, website traffic and the number of statutory declarations over the test period, along with changes to the total payments made on time.
A pre-post evaluation showed an average 13% increase in the number of people who were avoiding late fines by paying on time.
There were only slight differences between those who received larger (13.5% increase) and smaller (11.4% increase) fines.