Fly-tippers beware: Council plans to DNA test rubbish

Clear-up costs Birmingham £800,000 a year

fly tipping flytipping rubbish dump dumping illegal unauthorized

Birmingham City Council is considering an unusual way of catching fly tippers - checking the rubbish they leave for DNA.

Fly tippers are costing the council a massive £800,000 a year, and council bosses are desperate to discourage it by catching more of the offenders - currently, only around a third of the council's 467 cases a year are successfully prosecuted.

While there are 10 CCTV cameras with automatic number plate recognition positioned at strategic spots, these can only cover the most notorious fly-tipping areas. Covert surveillance is sometimes used, but only after a special court order is granted.

Meanwhile, methods such as trawling through rubbish for identifying items like addressed envelopes are very successful, but only go so far.

As a result, the council is considering testing items such as discarded mattresses for traces of DNA that can be checked against the national database.

"We are always open to using technology. We do not know if the DNA testing will work but are looking at it," Tony Quigley, head of the council's waste enforcement unit, tells the Birmingham Mail.

"We have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt who is responsible, and this is worth a try."

Over the country as a whole, fly tipping costs councils nearly £50 million a year, dealing with almost 900,000 incidents.

"At a time when councils have experienced substantial budget reductions, this is money which is being diverted from vital frontline services like caring for the elderly, and filling the nation's potholes," says LGA environment spokesman Councillor Peter Box.

"The government has introduced new powers enabling councils to issue on-the-spot fines and this is an important step forward.

"However, there are a number of additional changes that would help tackle littering and fly-tipping, including sharing more of the responsibility with product producers – such as mattress and chewing gum manufacturers - to contribute to the costs of clear up."

Late last month, the LGA produced a list of the worst excuses trotted out by fly-tippers.

"The excuses some fly-tippers give when caught are laughable but for councils this issue is deadly serious," says Box.

The top 10 list of fly-tippers' excuses

1. I paid a man with a van to take it

2. "I thought the green waste in the back of the van was on fire so I tipped it out, after I realised it wasn't on fire I couldn't put it back in the van as I had to collect my son from school!"

3. I met a man at the 'dump' who said he wanted it – can't think why he then dumped it;rather than taking it back to the 'dump...

4. I dropped my phone and there was so much rubbish in the car that I could hardly find it – I cleared the rubbish out so I could find the phone...

5. My van was untidy and I needed to give my boss a lift so I cleared the rubbish out because I know he doesn't like the van untidy...

6. The waste fell off the back of my vehicle as I drove along ...

7. I saw other fly-tipped waste and thought the area was a recycling centre...

8. It was my van, but I had lent it to this other man who is now not answering my calls... I think his name is Jim...

9. I sold my vehicle to some people who were quite intimidating actually...

10. I know the person who works on the tip and they don't like me, so when I saw them working, I drove on...

Inside the rubbish filled flat

Inside the rubbish filled flat


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