Three people prosecuted for dropping cigarette butts in Brighton and Hove have been ordered to pay almost £1,000 each after failing to turn up to court.
Last Wednesday, Brighton Magistrates found the three guilty of dropping litter in the street after failing to pay a £75 fixed penalty that was issued at the time. Littering is contrary to Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act and a criminal offence.
Stacey Ransom from Peacehaven, Muhammad Noorani from Croydon and Michael Conn from Devon were each ordered to pay a fine of £440, plus £450 costs and a £44 victim surcharge.
Smokers have been a particular target of Brighton and Hove City Council’s new privately employed litter cops, who handed out 602 fines in the first six months of the contract last year – 80% of the total fines issued from February to August.
Contractor 3GS keeps two thirds of the fines, and the council says it will spent its share on mobile CCTV in a bid to boost the amount of fines issued for fly-tipping, which accounted for just eight offences in the first six months.
At court on Wednesday, a further case for flytipping on Hollingbury golf course was unable to proceed because the defendant did not appear in court and has to be present. A warrant is currently out for his arrest.
These were the first cases taken to court following the start of a new enforcement contract last year which aims to support the council’s work to improve the environment and reduce waste clean-up costs by tackling littering.
Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “The council is taking all kinds of littering extremely seriously. Taking someone to court is a last resort but anyone ignoring a fixed penalty notice (FPN) leaves themselves at risk of prosecution which could result in a hefty bill and a criminal record.”
The defendants also had the opportunity to plead guilty by post which would have resulted in a less severe penalty. All the offences occurred in the summer of 2016.
Residents regularly complain about cigarette litter outside heavily populated work places and the council has also worked closely with contractor 3GS to target other incidents of concern to residents.
In the two months up to October 2016, 27 FPNs were issued for flytipping, compared to eight in the first eight weeks of operation and 65 for commercial waste offences, (more than for cigarette-related FPNs in the same period). As the contract progresses the council will be bringing in other initiatives, including combatting dog fouling.
The council is using its share of the fixed penalty notice income to pay for a pilot using CCTV cameras to deter flytipping.