Councils cash in on minor 'middle-class' crimes

With council tax no doubt set for yet another rise this year, many will be angry to hear that police and town halls are making a particular effort to tackle minor "middle-class" crimes. According to the Daily Mail, more than £400 million a year is being raised through speeding and parking tickets, litter fines and, in some cases, even putting bins out on the wrong day.

Top "middle-class" crime searches:
  1. Contest a parking ticket
  2. Speed camera maps
  3. Parking ticket fines
  4. Fighting speeding tickets
  5. Speed camera
  6. Mobile speed trap
  7. Litter fines
  8. Traffic offence
  9. Parking on single yellow lines
  10. Bus lane fines
An increasing number of surveillance cameras are catching these "offenders" with speed cameras alone capturing the crimes of more than 1.4 million each year. And a number of councils are now using cameras that record parking infringements. Automated fines are sent to the vehicle's owner with no need for a traffic warden and other councils are set to follow the tactic.

But the fines don't stop at driving. The Mail reports that in November, 26-year-old Vanessa Kelly was handed a £75 for feeding the birds "outside the designated feeding areas" in Smethwick, West Midlands – hardly the actions of a hard-nosed criminal.

Last year, councils racked up some serious cash from these "crimes" - £330 million in parking fines, £100 million from speeding tickets and £12 million from spot fines such as littering and over-filling a dustbin. Now the general public is losing confidence in the police and a report last year revealed that the middle-classes feel they are being criminalised.

Last month, it was revealed that the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme has given 1,667 parking wardens, dog wardens and shopping centre guards the power to hand out on-the-spot fines for littering, dog fouling and vandalism. Another 478 have been given the power to stop vehicles in order to check for a valid tax disc.

The question is when will we, the public, see the benefits of all this extra revenue?