'Litter police' stood down in Ashford after exposé

Image caption 'Litter police' were exposed for handing out fines incorrectly

Privately contracted so-called "litter police" have been removed from service by a council after an undercover Panorama report found they were getting bonuses for issuing fines.

Enforcement company Kingdom Services hands out on the spot fines.

Ashford Borough Council removed all its Kingdom officers from patrolling the streets, after one was filmed revealing he raked in a bonus of almost £1,000.

They will be out of action while undergoing extra training.

A spokeswoman for the council said: "In light of the recent Panorama programme we have decided to take this opportunity to give our wardens some important additional staff training exercises so they can continue operating fairly and effectively.

"We haven't suspended them but they are not patrolling currently. They should be back soon, after the training has been undertaken."

Littering is a crime, but by paying the fine you can avoid a criminal record. Another Kent-based Kingdom trainer was caught on camera saying they pretend to call the police to pressure people to pay up.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Councils are increasingly using private companies to enforce laws against littering.

The BBC1 programme, aired on Monday, revealed people across the country were wrongly fined for tipping coffee down a drain and putting their recycling out on the wrong day.

On Tuesday Maidstone Borough Council also removed its own Kingdom officers while a review was carried out. They were back patrolling on Wednesday.

It is not the first time councils in Kent have had problems with Kingdom.

Maidstone suspended its officers last year for a two-week review after a woman was incorrectly fined for littering while feeding some ducks.

Gravesham Borough Council severed ties with Kingdom last year and now operates its litter enforcement "in-house".

A spokesman for Kingdom said: "Our service operates under some of the tightest legal guidelines which set the fixed penalty notice level and affords anybody the right to appeal to the council or/and challenge with the courts if they choose."

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