4 October 2016

CCTV could be used to tackle environmental crimes

CCTV cameras are to be introduced in an attempt to stop flytipping in Brighton & Hove streets.

Cameras will be funded with money raised by fining people for a range of environmental crimes.

The council says the city has a major problem with large items of furniture and household goods being dumped in streets – particularly next to communal waste and recycling bins.

The authority has been able to issue fixed penalty notices for fly tipping since May 2016 under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The maximum fine imposed by the council is currently £300.

Alternatively it can prosecute via the courts under the same legislation.  The maximum penalty from a Crown Court is up to five years imprisonment or an unlimited fine. 

The move is part of the city council’s drive to tidy streets and the improve the environment.  In February this year it started using contractors 3GS to issue fixed penalty notices for environmental offences.  In the first six months they issued 1082 penalty notices, compared to just 80 in the whole of the 2014/15 financial year.

Environmental crimes common in the city range from flytipping, flyposting and littering to unauthorised distribution of leaflets.  Businesses are causing problems illegally dumping refuse in communal waste or recycling bins, increasing the city’s waste and driving down recycling rates.  All businesses are legally obliged to have a waste disposal contract with a licenced operator.

Fines collected from fixed penalty notices will be used to pay for the new CCTV cameras, deployed at flytipping hotspots.  These will be complemented by a programme of education and information, plus improved signs on communal bins.

Chair of the environment committee Cllr Gill Mitchell said:  “I challenged a couple dumping a mattress in the street the other day.  They said their landlord told them to dump it and the council would collect it. In fact it’s a criminal offence.

“Residents living around the Royal Sussex County Hospital have asked that 3GS patrol that area more frequently due to the amount of cigarette litter dropped in their streets. The hospital is of course a no-smoking area and the Trust provide plenty of bins. In future people committing these environmental crimes will increasingly pay, instead of residents.”

The council says it must comply with national laws on CCTV use.  It will respect people’s privacy but use CCTV in a very targeted way to tackle this anti-social criminal behaviour at problem locations.  It will be a proportionate response to environmental damage created by a minority of individuals. Signs will warn people where it may be used.  The purpose it to help the council meet its legal obligations to keep areas free of litter and refuse. 

A report on the matter is going to the environment, transport and sustainability committee on October 11.  It can be seen here among the agenda papers for the meeting.

Dumping household goods in the street is a criminal offence