Enforcers with body cameras will split £80 fines with council in zero tolerance crackdown
LIVERPOOL has become the latest council to hire a private firm of zero-tolerance enforcers to swoop on litter droppers across the city. And it won’t cost the council a penny.
Instead the company, Kingdom, will hand over to the council half of the money it rakes in from fixed-penalty notices, forty quid to Kingdom, the rest to the council.
Kingdom has hit the headlines in its business of keeping the streets of Britain tidy while making money - proving the old adage: where’s there’s muck there’s brass.
One of its litter officers once handed out a penalty ticket to a woman feeding ducks in the park.
Kingdom also featured prominently in a Daily Mail report with the headline: “Beware the Litter Stasi: How new scourge of the High Street are hired by councils to fine you up to £80 for dropping a shop receipt or a cherry stone.”
The report told how David Ellis, from WIrral, was fined after his bookmark fell out onto the floor.
An army of 17 litter enforcers will take to the streets of Liverpool wearing body cameras to capture people dropping litter or failing to pick up dog mess.
The council has confirmed to Liverpool Confidential that it won’t be paying a fee to Kingdom to provide the service but will split the income from fines.
In some parts of the country similar services operate it has led to concerns that the litter police can swoop too rigorously on offenders to generate fixed penalty income.
The crackdown follows Mayor Joe Anderson’s pledge to tackle the issue of “environmental crime” by significantly increasing the 277 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) Liverpool has issued over the last year.
The council is running a 12 month pilot with Kingdom, which works with local authorities across the country and also provides a range of intelligence and security services.
Equipped with body cameras, the enforcement officers will patrol the streets of the city centre and suburbs issuing £80 penalty notices to those they see dropping litter or allowing their dogs to foul.
The council says proceeds from the on-the-spot fines will be reinvested in environmental activities such as tackling litter, graffiti and fly-posting.
Councillor Steve Munby (pictured above), cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: “Our city is not just the place where we all live and work, but also a magnet for millions of tourists and visitors from around the world. Sadly, I am sometimes ashamed when I see the way in which a minority of people treat our streets as a dumping ground.
“Dropping litter is not about keeping a street cleanser in a job. It is anti-social behaviour and blights communities. Making our streets look scruffy just because you’re too lazy to find a bin is just not acceptable and we’re not going to tolerate it.
“We’re saying enough is enough and we need people to take pride in our city. This new team will take a zero tolerance approach to dropping litter and will hit those responsible hard in the pocket. This is just one of a series of measures we are taking to make Liverpool cleaner and send out a strong message that environmental crime will be tackled, whether it’s litter, dog fouling or flytipping.
“Using Kingdom will enable us to redeploy our staff to dealing with some of the more complex environmental crime issues such as tracking down those responsible for fly tipping.”
Michael Fisher, environmental protection director at Kingdom, said: “We will be deploying trained and experienced teams to join forces with the council’s in-house teams to deploy in identified hotspots in an intelligence-led manner.”
In its material, Kingdom insists its officers are not remunerated against the number of fixed penalty notices they issue. However, it admits its officers are sometimes rewarded through discretionary competency allowances.
These payments are linked to a number of the key competencies and are not determined solely by the number of FPNs they issue, it says.
The Daily Mail report quoted a former Kingdom employee who claimed wardens avoided youngsters hanging around fast-food shops or anyone “burly” who might cause trouble, “so they’d go for someone rushing to work, a mum with a baby or an old person”.
Kingdom has hit the headlines numerous times over its tactics.
Last year the Express and Star in Wolverhampton told how “heavy-handed litter enforcers who demanded cash from an innocent man have been shamed in front of thousands online”.
The report in the paper added “Government guidelines state fixed penalty notices should not be issued for accidental littering or if there is no evidence of intent to drop litter.
They also state offenders should be given chance to pick litter up first.
The man accused of dropping litter said: "They didn't ask me to pick it up or anything, they just tried to give me the fine. They were just throwing money figures at me, saying it's a fixed penalty notice of £75 and up to £2,000 if I don't pay.”