‘Litter police’ issue fines to over 1,500 people in Exeter during pilot project

More than 1,500 ‘litter louts’ were fined by Exeter’s ‘litter police’ in a year-long bid to clean up the streets. The vast majority of fines were issued to those seen discarding cigarette butts.

As part of a 12-month pilot, enforcement company 3GS have been hired by the city council to fine those who deliberately drop litter or fail to clear up after their dogs.

Culprits are issued with £100 fines, which can be reduced to £75 for littering or £60 for dog fouling, if paid within 14 days.

The trial ran from October 2018 to September 2019, and a report to next Tuesday’s Exeter City Council Executive meeting says that a total of 1,557 FPNs were issued, resulting in the collection of £82,700.

Exeter City Council paid nothing for the service during the trial, but 3GS kept the income from FPNs issued.

During the trial, the council’s Street Cleansing Management team identified an improvement in the city centre environment, but the report of David Bartram, Director, reveals it was not to a level which enabled a reduction in city centre resource to then allow redeployment of cleansing staff to other areas.

He is therefore recommending that the executive ask the full council to approve recruiting an additional Civil Enforcement Officer and to involve the existing Civil Enforcement Officer team in environmental enforcement work alongside their existing duties.

The salary for this post is expected to be funded by Fixed Penalty Notice income based on the findings of the pilot scheme, Mr Bartram says.

He said: “Their patrols were focused around the city centre and the officers provided additional value ‘on the ground’ by liaising closely with both CCTV and Exeter Business Against Crime staff.

“A total of 1,557 FPNs were issued, resulting in the collection of £82,700 to date. The overwhelming majority of FPNs were issued to people throwing down cigarette butts. Street Cleansing Management were able to identify an improvement in the city centre environment. However, this improvement was not to a level which enabled a reduction in city centre resource to then allow redeployment of cleansing staff to other areas.

“The ultimate aim is to ensure compliance rather than deliver income and only thirteen people received an FPN on more than one occasion, indicating that receiving an FPN did alter future behaviour for the vast majority.”

The number of FPNs issued were:

  • Cigarette butts 1,525
  • Litter 15
  • Spitting 14
  • Chewing Gum 3

Of the FPNs issued, 1,125 involved incidents in the High Street, with a further 135 in Sidwell Street and 85 in Queen Street.

Alternative options presented by Mr Bartram for the executive to consider are to appoint an external provider on a fixed term basis via the Council’s tender and procurement process to run the service, in a similar vain to the 3GS trial, or decide not to provide any on-going environmental enforcement or deterrent, as has been the case since 2012.

But he is recommending an additional member of staff be hired and the existing Civil Enforcement Officers take on environmental enforcement work as part of their duties to provide a flexible enforcement resource that is able to undertake not just environmental enforcement, but also take action on parking, illegal camping and dog issues.

Exeter City Council’s Executive meet next Tuesday night where they will make a decision.

The trial followed calls from the public asking the City Council to take more action, and ‘government cuts to funding’ resulting in ‘any means necessary’ approach to provide services.

Dropping general litter, cigarettes, spitting, food waste and chewing gum are offences that are covered under the scheme.

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