Litter 'police’ warned off targeting smokers dropping cigarette butts

Operation: Sunderland Terrace is among the streets targeted for a major operation against littering
Operation: Sunderland Terrace is among the streets targeted for a major operation against littering
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A new enforcement contract to tackle dog fouling and littering in communities close to Barnsley town centre is to be introduced – with a direct instruction from councillors to avoid prosecuting those who drop cigarette ends.

Barnsley Council’s Central Area Council, a body made up of councillors representing the wards around the town centre, currently has an enforcement policy provided by external company Kingdom and is currently retendering for a new, smaller, version.

But tender details are specific that it is not intended to catch those dropping cigarette butts, with councillors concerned about the impact on residents.

Coun Margaret Bruff said one elderly woman had attended a council surgery as a result of being stopped by a group of three Kingdom staff who imposed a fine after she was seen dropping a cigarette in Eldon Street.

Coun Bruff said the woman accepted she had done wrong and picked up the butt to put it in a bin, but was still fined.

She told a meeting of the area council: “There were three officers who zoomed in on this old lady and she was quite upset.”

Councillors were unable to do anything to assist the woman, other than explain how the littering contract currently works, but they have concerns about the implications for smokers.

The meeting heard that some people will use their shoe to stub out a burning cigarette on the ground before putting in a bin, a practice which could leave them at risk of being fined.

Kingdom’s contract ends shortly and those tendering to take on the new contract will be expected to focus on dog fouling and other litter issues.

Those wanting to bid must have their applications with the council shortly and it is expected the successful contractor will be announced in January.

Latest figures for Kingdom’s performance in the area show officers issued 236 fixed penalty notices between July and September, with another four for parking offences.

From the 236 fixed penalties, 13 were for dog fouling with the rest for littering.

Those figures are up on the previous three months, a change attributed to new staff increasing their local knowledge.

One of the areas targeted was the streets of Sunderland Terrace, Pinder Street, Burton Terrace, Evelyn Terrace and Osborne Street, which were the subject of a ‘enforcement action day’ where all Kingdom staff worked in the area.

The company has reported a positive response from the public.