Litter enforcement officers in Wolverhampton hand out £30,000 of fines in a week


Council enforcers sent to patrol the streets in a crackdown on litter louts have doled out £30,000 worth of fines in just over a week.

A private firm of litter enforcement officers brought in by a city council earlier this month have issued 401 fines since starting work on August 17.

But Wolverhampton City Council which is trialling the tougher stance over the next 12 months, and has just revealed the figures, said the fines are "not a money-making exercise".

Earlier this year, the local authority announced it needed to make savings of £134 million by 2019.

The enforcement is being carried out by Kingdom Security, which is empowered to issue £75 fines for anyone caught littering, dropping cigarette butts and failing to clean up after their dog.

The council gets £30 of the fixed penalty fine, while the company takes the rest.

Kingdom, whose website states its environmental enforcement division is led by ex-police and military experts, has already established a track record in the field.

Earlier this year the company's litter officers handed out 1,176 fines in July alone under a contract with Wirral Council.

After being employed by Havant Borough Council in May 2014, the firm's enforcement teams had handed out 4,815 fines by July of this year.

In Wolverhampton, councillor Steve Evans said the self-financing contract was aimed at dealing with the minority of people "who cannot be bothered to put litter in the bin" and had been broadly welcomed by the public.

The enforcement teams are targeting the city centre and other "hot-spot" problem areas in Wednesfield, Bilston and West Park, equipped with body-worn cameras.

They can also issue the fines to teenagers aged 16 and above for the first time.

"We've had lots of complaints, particularly about dog fouling," said the council cabinet member for the environment.

"Nobody wants to have to live in an area where there's litter.

"The overwhelming majority do the right thing, but a small minority show totally the wrong behaviour, they can't be bothered, and it's disrespectful."

Mr Evans said the council had publicised its crackdown, even handing out raffle tickets to people spotted binning their litter as a headline-grabbing reward.

"At the end of the day, if you don't want a fixed penalty notice, then clean up your dog mess and put your litter in the bin," he added.

"I don't want my kids going to the park and stepping in someone else's dog's mess."

Mr Evans said "common sense" would be employed so the system was fair and proportionate.

"It's not a money-making exercise," he added.

"We're not saying go out there and hand out as many as you can, and hopefully it'll add up to £140 million."

Last year, before the trial began, Mr Evans said the council had handed out 29 fixed penalty notices for littering.

Michael Fisher, Kingdom divisional director, said: "Our aim is to patrol in an intelligence led manner focusing our controls on identified litter hot-spots operating a robust but always proportionate methodology to tackle the problem, utilising a wide range of technical support including body worn cameras."

Earlier this year, a survey of 2,100 people by the environmental charity Hubbub found 86% thought litter was a "disgusting habit".

Just one in six people (15%) said they would confront somebody they saw dropping litter, while 54% would like to, but would not dare.