Civil liberties group slams Blaenau Gwent litter police

A CIVIL liberties organisation has hit out at a controversial Blaenau Gwent scheme aimed at catching litterers.

The Manifesto Club says fines for littering should be the last resort and not the first - has questioned whether the fines are proportionate to the offence.

Blaenau Gwent council has teamed up with private company XFOR to hand fines to people responsible for dropping litter or dog fouling.

National pressure group the Manifesto Club, which has been contacted by people concerned at the operation, wrote to the council saying some fines "contravene principles of justice".

Group director Josie Appleton wrote that, when employees need to issue fines in order to get paid, it would be a "perfectly understandable tendency" if workers looked for people to fine.

Ms Appleton said: "Here you have a private company on a commission basis give out fines in what appears to be an erratic and unreasonable manner."

Ms Appleton wrote that government guidelines state it is not in the public interest to fine people for minor littering offences.

She said fines for people littering supermarket car parks are questionable when the supermarket would clean up the area.

Last week Claire Bailey of Ebbw Vale, who faced court over allegedly throwing a cigarette butt onto a street, was acquitted by magistrates who said the case was not proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Argus previously reported that five XFOR staff work across Blaenau Gwent fining people for littering and dog fouling.

A council spokeswoman said staff are not paid a commission and that although 1,500 fixed penalty notices were issued by XFOR since October, only around 25 complaints have been made.

She said there is "no excuse" for throwing cigarette butts onto streets, and it Is not acceptable to litter whether the land is publicly or privately owned.

"Using a private company allows the council to implement this proactive approach to enforcement in a cost-efficient and effective manner," she added.

A XFOR spokeswoman said: "All our staff are paid a salary irrespective of the amount of fixed penalty notices they issue and any performance bonus is linked to a monthly overall performance review and includes punctuality, smartness and overall productivity."


Only 50% of fines paid so far

Two staff are paid an hourly rate and pass the full £75 to the council, while three others issue fines where £45 goes to XFOR and £30 to the council.

However if the fine is paid within 14 days it is reduced to £50 - with £45 going to XFOR and £5 going to the council.

XFOR's cut covers its costs, staff wages and its profit.

By late March £78,750 worth of fines had been issued but only 50 per cent - £39,375 - had been paid.

Comments (5)

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8:52pm Tue 22 May 12

Ricci says...

Dont pay the fine. They cant afford to take everybody to court.
Dont pay the fine. They cant afford to take everybody to court. Ricci
  • Score: 0

9:13pm Tue 22 May 12

Dai the Milk says...

Maybe they shouldn't drop litter then or allow their dogs to mess up the streets. Long overdue.
Maybe they shouldn't drop litter then or allow their dogs to mess up the streets. Long overdue. Dai the Milk
  • Score: 0

6:33am Wed 23 May 12

Robodad says...

Hey Ricci, don't bet on it. You have been warned. It wont cost us to take you to court because you will have to pay our costs, adds quite a bit to the £75 fine.
Hey Ricci, don't bet on it. You have been warned. It wont cost us to take you to court because you will have to pay our costs, adds quite a bit to the £75 fine. Robodad
  • Score: 0

7:15am Wed 23 May 12

welshfreeman says...

Ms Appleton you think its ok for people to litter in supermarkets because they employ staff to clean up, what a lazy, dirty, disgusting attitude. just what is wrong with people these days, people should not litter full stop, you have absolutely no right to complain, if you cannot be bothered to bin it.
Ms Appleton you think its ok for people to litter in supermarkets because they employ staff to clean up, what a lazy, dirty, disgusting attitude. just what is wrong with people these days, people should not litter full stop, you have absolutely no right to complain, if you cannot be bothered to bin it. welshfreeman
  • Score: 0

12:55am Thu 24 May 12

Newport Dave says...

So Josie Appleton seems to be saying that it gets cleaned up anyway so carry on and who gives a flying doodah.
Do this woman live in a cave?
How cretinous can people get? Perhaps we should all pop along to Josie Appleton's home and dump our rubbish into her garden (perhaps some dog poo for good measure as well). After all, it would get cleaned up anyway wouldn't it?
How's this for an idea Josie:
If you drop rubbish on the floor or don't pick up your dog mess, you get fined. Nothing too dificult to grasp there for you.
So Josie Appleton seems to be saying that it gets cleaned up anyway so carry on and who gives a flying doodah. Do this woman live in a cave? How cretinous can people get? Perhaps we should all pop along to Josie Appleton's home and dump our rubbish into her garden (perhaps some dog poo for good measure as well). After all, it would get cleaned up anyway wouldn't it? How's this for an idea Josie: If you drop rubbish on the floor or don't pick up your dog mess, you get fined. Nothing too dificult to grasp there for you. Newport Dave
  • Score: 0

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