CCTV cameras hidden inside fizzy pop cans to catch fly-tippers in West Yorkshire

Picture: PA.
Picture: PA.
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Fly-tippers could be caught by the use of cameras hidden inside Coca Cola cans.

That’s the opinion of a veteran councillor who says covert surveillance might be the answer to halting the scourge of fly-tipping across Kirklees.

The council already employs CCTV throughout the borough and has used footage to help secure a prosecution.

However it does not use CCTV covertly.

The notion of using covert cameras to target fly tippers was raised during a debate on the council’s use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which sets out how and when a local authority can engage in covert surveillance.

The act regulates directed surveillance, the use of covert human intelligence and the obtaining of communications data. In Kirklees no RIPA authorisations have been granted during the last 12 months.

Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) suggested that RIPA guidelines were too restrictive and that councils such as Kirklees should be free to install hidden cameras at fly-tipping hotspots.

“It’s my belief that we should use all methods that we can to stamp out fly-tipping.

“At one stage we bought some Coca Cola cans that were totally self-reliant and had CCTV cameras in them that allowed us to film on sites by putting the can down and pointing at things.

“So we have got methods that we can use but this policy means that we can’t.

“This is very restrictive on what it allows us to use it for. We ought to be reviewing that.”

Coun Sheard has previously expressed his frustration at the growing toll of fly-tipping in Kirklees, which annually costs the council around £200,000 to clear illegally dumped waste.

Latest government figures revealed that there were 4,145 incidents of fly-tipping recorded in the borough in 2017-18.

The council took some action – be it conducting an investigation, sending out warning letters at £33 a time, doling out fines or prosecuting someone – on 1,214 occasions.

Assuming that one action relates to a single incident of rubbish dumping, the conclusion is that in at least 71 per cent of cases, fly tippers are getting away with it completely.

At the same time, the council prosecuted just four people.

Similarly, only 31 fixed penalty notices, which don’t come with a criminal conviction, were issued, just four of which had been paid at the time the data was released.

Overall, the council did manage to collect £150 in fines over the course of the year.

The council works with partners such as West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards to share its CCTV capability. Information can be provided to the police following a formal request.

Trading Standards’ requests are usually within the context of test purchase operations typically involving sales of age-restricted goods to minors.