Broadcast From the Bins 24th April
Dashboard Cameras: The New Weapon Against Litter Louts
We all know that litter is a problem, and that it makes our local areas look unloved and shabby, so why do people still drop litter? It’s because they think they can.
New fines are being introduced in England, which doubles the fine that litter louts have to pay if they are caught in the act. But herein lies the problem, a lack of evidence often thwarts the attempts of local authorities to prosecute littering cases.
But local authorities in Northern Ireland are saying no more, and they are taking a brand-new approach to catching litter bugs and taking them to court.
The local authority in Omagh in Northern Ireland is set to fit their litter enforcement vehicles with dashboard CCTV cameras to gain enough evidence to prosecute litter louts who might otherwise have escaped due to a lack of evidence.
The council hope that the cameras will act as a deterrent, and that they will provide the evidence needed to prosecute people who wilfully drop litter. Half of the cases brought against perpetrators by the local authority were lost due to a lack of evidence.
There are still only 2 enforcement officers who have to cover the entire region of West Tyrone and County Fermanagh. Fitting their vehicles with the cameras will cost the local authority around £400. This is a small outlay compared to the £2 million that it costs the local authority to keep the region clean each year. Litter remains a problem, despite investment in litter bin provision and recycling facilities.
Any offenders who drop chewing gum, cigarette butts, or even people who fail to clean up after their dogs, who are caught on candid camera, will be fined £75.
A report presented to the local authority’s Environmental Service Committee highlighted that of 11 cases brought for prosecution, 5 were lost, as the only evidence of wrongdoing was a witness statement given by an enforcement officer.
The local authority stated that the evidence that will be provided by the camera footage will save time and money in bringing about successful prosecution of those who drop litter.
Due to privacy laws, enforcement vehicles will be marked to indicate to people that there is a camera onboard.
The cameras will be sent to problem areas that are identified, and the council is campaigning on social media for residents to help them identify problem areas and perpetrators.