Private firm dishes out 158 fixed penalties for littering in Mid and East Antrim

One hundred and 58 fixed penalties have been issued for littering offences in Mid and East Antrim since enforcement officers started work in the borough’s town centres last week.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 11:11 am

The borough council has confirmed that this was the number of fixed penalties that were issued by the private firm during the first week in operation.

The enforcement team from Waste Investigations Support and Enforcement (WISE) have been given powers to issue fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling and will be targeting “hotspot areas” across Mid and East Antrim during the next 12 months.

The fines are expected to be pocketed by the new company.

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A litter enforcement company has been employed in Mid and East Antrim.

Anyone observed failing to pick up after their dogs or dropping litter will be issued with an on the spot £80 Fixed Penalty Notice.

Failure to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice may result in prosecution being brought and a “much higher fine” being imposed by a court.

Commenting on social media, Knockagh DUP Councillor Marc Collins said: “Really pleased to see the new enforcement team hitting the streets from today in a clampdown on littering and dog fouling across the borough.

“This is an issue which I had initially raised back in August 2020 at our Direct Services Committee meeting when the number of fixed penalty notices (FPN) handed out were minimal compared to the levels of dog fouling and rubbish seen on our streets.”

Just three fixed penalty notices were issued for littering and dog fouling in Mid and East Antrim during 2019/20.

Dog fouling complaints dropped from 195 in 2018/19 to 111 during 2019/20 and the issuing of fixed penalty notices of £80 has been described as “random”.

Cllr Collins added: “Council has now partnered with Waste Investingations Support & Investigation (WISE) for a year-long trial to work alongside our existing enforcement officers and prosecute those who flout the rules.

“I have already raised a number of ‘hot spots’ across the town for the team to focus on so hopefully we will see a reduction in litter, dog fouling and fly tipping.

“There is no additional cost to council or the ratepayer for this service.”

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said: “Dog fouling, littering and the dumping of waste across Mid and East Antrim is an important issue to our residents. Street litter and dog mess is a real frustration and cleaning up our public spaces is a priority for council.

“At the heart of this issue is a need to tackle that minority of people who still believe it is okay to just drop their rubbish wherever they fancy. It can’t just be about education or awareness-raising, nor can we afford to just throw more money into street cleaning, there has to be a realistic deterrent and we believe hitting these irresponsible people in the pocket is the way to go.

“Working with WISE and having new dedicated environmental enforcement officers, out there seven days a week, issuing on the spot fines to those who are caught in the act should soon get the message out there that we mean business.

“Dropping litter is anti-social behaviour and impacts on our environment. There is never an excuse to mess up our borough and I would think the majority of local people believe we are right to be targeting offenders in this way.”

The officers will also be encouraging residents to sign up to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Green Dog Walkers Scheme. Green Dog Walkers was set up in January 2018 to change attitudes about dog fouling.

Managing Director of WISE John Dunne said: “Our aim is to reduce environmental crime for the long term and patrol the area in an ‘intelligence led’ manner using geo fencing technology and focusing our controls on identified hotspots received from the complaints and feedback of the general public.

“We will operate a robust but always proportionate methodology to tackle environmental crime, using a wide range of technical support including wireless body worn cameras and a handheld computer which will confirm the identity of an alleged offender before issuing a fixed penalty notice.

“Our officers have been instructed to communicate openly with the community with the overall aim of inclusivity for the Mid and East Antrim community to play their part in the task ahead.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read: Larne roots of borough-wide movement against litter louts

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