Hampshire & Isle of Wight

East Hampshire council 'litter police' issue fewer fines

litter enforcement officer Image copyright East Hampshire District Council
Image caption East Hampshire council employs four enforcement officers equipped with body-worn cameras

The number of fines for litter and dog fouling has halved in area where a council replaced private enforcement officers with its own staff.

East Hampshire District Council said 1,454 fixed penalty notices were issued by its contractor Kingdom Services in 2015-16.

The following year, the authority's own patrol officers issued 719 tickets.

The council said it "recognised the challenges of a wholly commercial approach and culture".

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Image copyright Basher Eyre
Image caption In April, eight people were prosecuted for litter or dog fouling in Petersfield

Kingdom currently has about 28 contracts with local authorities and last year saw its profits jump 30% to £9m.

A recent undercover Panorama report found the firm paid bonuses for issuing fines, with one officer claiming to have earned an extra £987 in one month.

East Hampshire District Council said its own bonus scheme was "a tiny percentage" of officers' salaries.

In 2016 the authority set up an in-house firm, EH Commercial Services (EHCS), employing four enforcement officers to patrol litter "hot spots".

It said 87% of people had paid the £80 fines for dropping litter and £50 penalties for dog mess.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Arun and Hart councils said they had previously carried out little or no "street scene enforcement"

In April and May, EHCS expanded its operations to cover three neighbouring districts - Arun, Hart and Havant - offering free patrols in exchange for keeping fines.

The council said it hoped to generate profits to invest in environmental projects.

Arun and Hart councils said they had previously carried out little or no "street scene enforcement".

East Hampshire said its in-house service would "better balance the needs of residents, the place and finances".

In a statement, Kingdom said the firm delivered "improved results'' when it worked with councils on "the scourge of litter and dog fouling".

It said Kingdom used "advanced training, technology and operational procedures" to "complement in-house services".

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